Self-Driving

Ford expands self-driving vehicle operations to Austin

Austin has become the third city that Ford will test its self-driving vehicles in.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Austin was the first city in the U.S. to allow fa self-driving test vehicle on public streets. Ford is beginning its self-driving vehicle testing in the city, making it the third municipality Ford is testing in, alongside Miami-Dade County and Washington D.C.

"At Ford, we think self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of our cities. As we continue to move towards the commercial launch of our self-driving vehicle services, we are expanding our testing operations in Austin in collaboration with Argo AI," said Sherif Marakby, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. "This includes working closely with city and state officials and community partners to help ensure we are properly integrating our plans into the wider transportation system."

Time is ticking. Ford has committed to having a fully autonomous vehicle in operation by 2021.

Ford Autonomous Testing Ford is using Austin as a proving ground for new autonomous driving technology.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

What does that mean? Ford says that their autonomous mobility solution will be classified as a SAE Level 4 capable-vehicle, or, "one of High Automation that can complete all aspects of driving without a human driver to intervene."

To help complete that goal, Ford has partnered with Velodyne, SAIPS, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, and Civil Maps to expand its research into advanced algorithms, 3-D mapping, radar technology, and camera sensors.

Ford will not be running the vehicles on a set course in Austin. The vehicle will test in full-autonomous mode with two safety drivers in the front seats on city streets as they operate on a daily basis. That means the ever-present obstacles of jaywalkers, parallel parking, and construction.

Ford Autonomous Testing Ford is using its Fusion sedan to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"This commitment is part of what makes Austin such a great place to launch a self-driving vehicle business, but it's just the start," Marakby wrote in a Medium.com post. "We believe that if you want to successfully launch a self-driving service that improves people's lives, you can't just drop into a city and start rolling cars out onto the streets. You need to develop a comprehensive understanding of what people and local businesses would find useful — and that's exactly what we'll be doing over the next few years."

In each of the last eight years, Austin has been the fastest growing metro region in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As such, it is facing transportation challenges at a rapid rate.

"With our region's population on track to double in the next 20 to 25 years, it's clear we need to re-think how our right-of-way is used if we want people to be able to move around our city," said Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization predicts vehicle use in the Austin region could double by 2040, while highway capacity will only grow 15 percent. Its 2045 Plan features a multimodal approach to addressing Austin's transportation needs over the next 25 years. Part of that strategy includes traditional options like walking and biking, but also could include new technologies, such as ride-hailing apps and autonomous vehicle integration.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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Tesla claims that its Cybertruck will go into production this year.

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In a presentation to investors this morning, Ford Motor Company revealed that it has received 70,000 reservations for its just-debuted F-150 Lightning electric truck. Its on-paper chief rival, the Tesla Cybertruck, has over one million according to data acquired by Finbold. Rivian, who is nearly ready to start production of its R1T all-electric truck, has over 30,000 reservations, according to reporting by InsideEVs.

Reservations are not orders or sales though they do serve as an indicator of the buying public's enthusiasm for a new model. More and more automakers are switching to online reservations to gauge buyer interest, determine proper product mix, and stay in touch with clients on a more personal level. Hyundai did this with the 2022 Tucson and Ford has successfully used it to launch the Mustang Mach-E.


2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has an all-electric powertrain in its familiar body. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Tesla opened reservations for the Cybertruck immediately following its debut around the same time as the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show where the Mustang Mach-E also debuted. Last July, Finbold revealed that their data showed that there were around 650,000 reservations. In 2018 and 2019 Tesla produced 612,120 vehicles.

Finbold's fresh research indicates that as of May 25, 2021, estimated Cybertruck reservations had reached 1.08 million. That number is more than the 866,750 total vehicles delivered by Tesla in two years between 2019 and 2020.

Though construction at the future home of the Cybertruck, Tesla's Austin, Texas plant, is ongoing, Tesla no longer features the Cybertruck alongside its existing models. The truck's homepage is currently housed in a "see more" style hamburger menu as a singular link alongside the Roadster and Semi. The Cybertruck was originally slated to begin production later this year.

The F-150 Lightning is expected to reach consumers ahead of the Tesla Cybertruck despite the fact that the Cybertruck was unveiled years ahead of the F-Series model. Both have fully electric powertrains. Ford will also offer the electric truck in a fleet version.

Ford has given more specifics about the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning than Tesla has about the Cybertruck. It will look much like a traditional F-150 but have an electric powertrain that gives it a maximum of 563 horsepower and 773 pound-feet of torque. The truck is being built to be capable of towing though doing so will likely decrease the truck's 300-mile maximum range considerably.

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