Jeep rolls out Wagoneer SUVs in challenge to GM and Ford By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sign at the U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan

By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (MI:) on Thursday unveiled its new family of Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer sport utility vehicles, and the head of the Jeep brand told Reuters he wants to match or beat the sales of rival models made by General Motors Co (N:).

From a luxury image standpoint, “we want to beat Range Rover,” global Jeep brand President Christian Meunier said in an interview. “From a business standpoint, we want to beat GMC and Cadillac.”

GM’s GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade model lines are leading sellers in the North American large, luxury SUV segment. Last year, GMC sold nearly 75,000 Yukons. Cadillac sold 35,424 Escalades, while Ford’s Lincoln brand sold 18,656 Navigators in 2019.

Luxury sport utilities built on the underpinnings of big pickup trucks represent one of the most profitable segments in the global auto industry. Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer prices could range from $60,000 to $100,000, Meunier said. That is comparable to the Escalade and Yukon lineups.

Most such vehicles are sold in North America and in certain Middle Eastern markets. Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand has not had an entry in this segment for decades. In Jeep’s absence, GM’s Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon and Ford’s Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models have dominated the segment in North America.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover models have defined the premium end of the large luxury SUV market in North America and in other markets.

Vehicles as large as the Grand Wagoneer, which is derived from a Ram pickup truck, are rare in China, the world’s largest market. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be built in a factory in suburban Detroit – a handicap for selling in China.

However, Meunier said “there’s an opportunity for China which we will test in the next few weeks.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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How a dog-like robot is helping Ford retool plants By Reuters


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© Reuters. Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot Fluffy uses lasers to scan Ford Van Dyke Transmission Plant

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(Reuters) – It runs, walks, and prances, rhythmically tapping its four feet before it sinks down on its haunches and crouches.

Despite its name, Fluffy has no fur. But the bright yellow robot, leased by Ford Motor Co (N:) from Boston Dynamics Inc, can fetch pictures and videos of a car factory with its five ‘eyes’ to help engineers design upgrades for workspaces.

With an accurate camera scan, “we can build those pieces within the workstation, and we can see if there’s any interferences or if everything new is going to fit,” said Mark Goderis, Ford’s advanced manufacturing center digital engineering manager.

Fluffy, controlled by an engineer with a handheld device, can travel up to 3 miles per hour (4.8 kph) for about two hours on its battery.

Fluffy can also ride ‘Scouter,’ a small round robot, through a factory to save power, while the two companions gather data. Wherever Scouter cannot glide into, Fluffy can fill in the gaps.

The automaker is testing the robots at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan. The robots’ scans cost a fraction of the $300,000 needed for engineers to walk over millions of square feet in a factory to set up cameras on a tripod, Ford said in a statement.

But the new engineers are just helpers, Goderis said.

“Our goal isn’t to displace any of the workforce,” he said, but “automating our processes and making the engineers and people that work for our company more efficient and effective in building quality products.”

Boston does not provide lease terms but Fluffy’s robot model, named ‘Spot,’ can be purchased for $74,500.

(Produced by Reuters TV; Writing by Richard Chang; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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The 10 coolest things about the new Ford Bronco


After years of speculation, numerous leaks, and an original launch date pushed back by the ongoing pandemic, Ford
F,
-1.43%

finally pulled the wraps off the revived Bronco.  And right away it’s looking like it’s going to turn the adventure vehicle segment on its head. A dedicated off-roader with heaps configurability and new features, the Bronco brings loads of excitement to an already red-hot off-road space, and here we’ll highlight 10 of our favorite things about it.

The original Ford Bronco made its debut back in 1966 as a competitor to the Jeep CJ-5. With its simplistic design, removable roof, and go-anywhere capability, it achieved an iconic status over the years, and the new one looks to pick up where that original Bronco left off. The design of the 2021 model is heavily influenced by the original, with a flat hood, flat doors, and an overall boxy shape, but with modern accouterments, like LED lighting, active safety tech, beadlock capable wheels, available 35-in off-road tires, and much, much more.

There’s a two-door version

The Ford Bronco 2-door.


Ford

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but don’t take a two-door SUV for granted here in 2020. These truncated off-roaders offer a better breakover angle and are considerably more maneuverable on the trail, making them the bodystyle of choice for serious off-road enthusiasts. While they were popular decades ago, two-door off-road vehicles are a rarity today, and virtually every one that has been attempted recently, outside of the venerable Jeep Wrangler of course, has been quietly discontinued within a few years. If any vehicle can buck the trend, it’s the Bronco. No pun intended, of course.

The roof and doors come off, but the mirrors stay on


Ford

Clearly targeted at the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco features a removable roof and doors, just like its Toledo-built rival. Unlike Jeep though, Ford has gone to lengths to make the Bronco’s roof and doors easier to handle. Like the Wrangler, both two- and four-door Broncos are available with a three-piece hardtop with two removable panels over the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

But the Bronco also offers an optional four-piece hardtop that adds an additional removable panel over the second row, allowing for an open-top experience for all passengers without requiring the removal of the bulky rear piece.

Additionally, unlike the Wrangler which has a cross beam located just above the second row, the Bronco’s rear crossbeam is located over the cargo area, leaving nothing but open sky over the heads of second row passengers. As for the Bronco’s doors, they come without window frames, making them lighter, easier to carry, and perhaps most important of all, capable of being stored in the cargo area, which allows for impromptu door removal.

Also on MarketWatch: American muscle: We compare a Chevy Camaro to Dodge Challenger

Additionally, unlike the Wrangler, which sees its mirrors located on the front doors themselves, the Bronco’s mirrors come affixed to the A-pillars, meaning that you don’t lose them when you remove the doors

You can get it with a seven-speed manual transmission

The Bronco will launch with two available engines. The entry-level engine is the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the Ranger, and makes the same 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque it does in Ford’s midsize pickup. This engine comes paired to either a ten-speed automatic, or a clever seven-speed manual, the lowest gear of which is a special ultralow crawler gear, meant for technical off-roading. Upper-level models get Ford’s 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, which will make 310 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired exclusively with the ten-speed auto.

It’ll launch with loads of accessories

Given the Bronco’s customizability, Ford has made it known that they’ll be introducing a whole line of accessories for the Bronco prior to it going on sale. Think lighting, wheels, tow hooks, winch mounts, roof racks, limb risers (those wires that run from the front corners up to a roof rack), doors with cutouts, fenders, lift kits, rock sliders, bumpers, and more. On top of that, the aftermarket is champing at the bit, with companies from Hennessey Performance to ARB certain to introduce a full line of Bronco products. Rest assured that there’ll be plenty of options for customization.

Base and Black Diamond trims come with steel wheels


Ford

Another seemingly minor point, but in the era of bigger and bigger wheel diameters, it’s nice to see an automaker embracing simplicity, especially in the form of subtle, utilitarian wheel designs. In the off-road space, it’s not uncommon to replace factory rims with smaller, more durable wheels, so it’s great to see Ford offering a set of simple, timeless steel wheels from the factory (for what it’s worth, Land Rover is doing something similar with the new Defender as well). Additionally, the Bronco is said to accept wheels as small as 16-in, which allows for more sidewall, and sidewall is your friend when venturing off-road.

There’s more off-road tech than you could dream of


Ford

In its most capable form, the Bronco will pack an unprecedented array of off-road tech; more than you can get on the Jeep Wrangler. Four-wheel drive is standard, and in addition to two-high, four-high, and four-low modes, the Bronco’s four-wheel drive system will come with an auto mode, capable of switching from two- to four-wheel drive on the fly whenever the system senses slippage.

The Bronco will be available with locking front and rear differentials, making it just one of three vehicles offered with independent front suspension and a front locker, the other two being the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Read: The best SUVs for less than $40k

Like it’s rival from Jeep, the Bronco will also offer an available disconnecting front sway bar, but the Bronco uses a much more sophisticated design than the Wrangler in that it can disconnect under full load. Additionally, the Bronco has an edge on the Wrangler when it comes to breakover and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability (the Wrangler barely beats it out on approach angle). The Bronco is also said to have greater wheel travel than its chief rival, despite its use of an independent front suspension.

Finally, the Bronco will offer a ‘Trail Turn’ assist mode, and up to seven different traction modes, including Sand, Rock, and our favorite from the F-150 Raptor, Baja.

There’s something called the Sasquatch package

It’s fair to say that the most drool-worthy Bronco is any one that’s riding on 35-in tires. To get these, you’ll have to opt for what Ford is referring to as the ‘Sasquatch Package’, and it’s available on all trim levels. In addition to 35-in tires, the ’Squatch Pack gets you 17-in beadlock-capable wheels, Bilstein position-sensitive monotube shocks, a 4.7 final drive ratio, high-clearance fender flares, and every off-roader’s favorite – locking front and rear differentials. We can’t help but wonder if the name of this package isn’t a subtle reference to the legendary Ford F-150-based monster truck known as Bigfoot.

The software is as cool as the hardware

In addition to its killer mechanical features, the Bronco will pack a new fourth-generation version of Ford’s Sync infotainment system, which will include mainstream features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a unique trail mapping feature that allows drivers to plan, program, and follow off-road trail itineraries, and then share them via an integrated social feature. Through the system, you can also access a number of different mapping services, including Trails Offroad, AccuTerra, and FunTreks. Additionally, the Bronco is available with a massive 12-in infotainment screen, and a 360-degree camera system, great for everything from tight parking spots to navigating Hell’s Revenge in Moab.

There’s a crossover version

The Ford Bronco Sport


Ford

Ford seems to be setting up the Bronco nameplate to become its own subbrand of off-roaders within the company’s greater lineup, and has thus introduced a small crossover dubbed the Bronco Sport alongside the primary Bronco. While the flagship Bronco comes with a body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle, the Bronco Sport rides on the same unibody platform as the Escape, and features a fully-independent suspension. Its closest rivals are the Jeep Compass and Cherokee.

Also see: Ford promises you can return your car within the first year if you lose your job—here’s how it works

While it won’t offer the configurability of the main Bronco, expect the Bronco Sport to offer decent fuel economy, more comfortable on-road driving manners, and a lower price, while being about the most capable body-on-frame crossover there is when it comes to venturing off-road.



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Ford: Built Tough Against Near-Term Headwinds (NYSE:F)


Like most car companies, Ford (NYSE:F) has been having a tough time during the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown and subsequent stay-at-home orders have dampened consumer confidence and halted automobile sales. However, the company is an American icon with a fantastic product and a loyal following. Despite the current short-term difficulty, I believe the company still has a solid, long-term future.

The company is facing some serious short-term headwinds because of the capital and fixed-cost-intensive nature of the business. Ford reported Q1 2020 net loss of $2.0 billion. Even more concerning is this net loss corresponded with a first-quarter free cash flow of negative $2.2 billion. In order to raise cash, the company tapped around $15 billion from its credit lines, issued an additional $8 billion in debt, and suspended its dividend. The company ended Q1 with $35 billion in cash.

The preliminary results for Q2 do not look promising either as total vehicle sales were down 33.3%. This is really bad news for the company as, like all automobile manufacturers, Ford’s margins are incredibly tight. Despite having $155.9 billion in sales, the company only has a 13.6% gross margin. Given the high fixed costs, a small decrease in sales would lead to a large decrease in the bottom line.

A possible silver lining though is that retail sales were only down 14.3% and retail sales for trucks were practically flat. The bulk of the loss can be attributed to the lack of industrial fleet sales. This is not surprising given that companies were conserving cash due to the pandemic and a lot of these purchases may have been pushed back or canceled. Basically this means that the Q2 2020 results will most likely look much worse than Q1 2020.

Investor presentation

Investor presentation

Ford’s future prospects look a lot better

Despite the present challenges, Ford is prepared to fire on all cylinders through 2020-2022. First and foremost, a new Ford Bronco is set to launch sometime in 2021 (with the unveiling in a few days’ time). The Bronco is a classic brand last seen in 1996. Ford is intending to tap on the nostalgia for the brand by highlighting its classic design such as its iconic horizontal grill. Similar to the Jeep Wrangler, an SUV Ford dedicated to taking on, the Bronco is an off-road-focused SUV. It will be mid-sized 4×4 and be a body-on-frame designed for rough roads. The Bronco will be offered in two- and four-door configurations along with a smaller variant called Bronco Sport.

2021 Ford Bronco: What We Know So Far

2021 Ford Bronco: What We Know So Far

Ford has been very clever in building hype for the reveal of the Bronco by partnering with Disney to get the message across all of its platforms. In fact, the Ford Bronco is among the most anticipated cars in 2020 according to Google search trends. Hype for the Bronco has been building up since this study was done and is close to the highest it’s been in anticipation of the launch. The company seems to have learned its lesson from the failed launch of the Explorer, so I do not expect any issues from this launch.

These Are The Most Googled Upcoming Cars Per State In America | Carscoops

Google Trends

Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.com, said, “Jeep has been capitalizing on their heritage for decades, and not in name only. Jeep has proven that a genuinely capable adventure/utility vehicle with a nod to the past is what many people want. And that’s what the Bronco promises, if they can deliver an authentic product and, more importantly, communicate that authenticity laced with nostalgia, it will be a winner.”

Ford declares war with all-new Bronco as Jeep Wrangler demand spikes

Apart from the upcoming Bronco, Ford has hedged its future in the electric vehicle market. Threatened by upstarts like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and its Cybertruck, Ford has dedicated itself to building its own electric vehicle using its ever-popular F-150 as the base. The F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America, and it’s quite clever that Ford used this as a way to introduce its entire EV line-up. This means that for the average truck driver, the design and feel of the electric vehicle version F-150 is far more comfortable than the somewhat weird-looking Cybertruck. Ford is targeting to have this car out by 2022.

Pick-up trucks are the company’s differentiator and its bread and butter. Ford and Lincoln both ranked in the top 5 in J.D. Power 2019 US Initial Quality. Ford pick-up trucks have a brand history built over the years when it comes to power and reliability. Given Tesla’s Model Y production quality issues, I do not view the company as a threat to Ford’s long-term dominance of the market.

The other potential threat to Ford from the EV side is the upcoming Rivian truck which is set to launch sometime in late 2020. However, Ford has hedged being displaced by a possible disruptor by investing $500 million into the car manufacturing start-up. Ford’s Lincoln brand continues to closely work with Rivian using its electric vehicle platform. This partnership allows Ford to have a sort of “hedge” should Rivian become the dominant EV technology.

Watch Ford F-150 all-electric pickup prototype tow over 1 million lbs of train carts – Electrek

Valuation

I feel that Ford is undervalued as the company’s price to book value is close to the lowest it’s been in five years. The current price to book ratio is 0.83x. Automobile manufacturing is a mature industry that is incredibly capital intensive. This deters new entrants from entering the industry and ensuring the incumbents’ dominance in the long term. While the stock has recovered from the lows quite a bit, it has not yet fully recovered from its price of $9.16 at the beginning of the year.

ChartData by YCharts
ChartData by YCharts

Among the big three car manufacturers, Ford also consistently has the highest gross margins. In a capital-intensive industry, having the highest gross profit margin gives you a substantial edge over your competition. However, there is room for improvement as Asian competitors like Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Honda (NYSE:HMC) have gross margins above 15%. Ford’s margin has been declining over the past five years. I feel confident that the company can improve its margins as it is undergoing an $11 billion restructuring plan in order to bring costs down and be more efficient. With the various possible tailwinds the company could have in the future, I believe the company is oversold and a reversion to a price to book value of 1 is probable. The company has a book value per share of $7.46 (which is my near-term target price as well). This implies a 25% upside from the current price levels.

ChartData by YCharts

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in F over the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Caveat emptor! (Buyer beware.) Please do your own proper due diligence on any stock directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. You probably should seek advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. I don’t know you or your specific circumstances, therefore, your tolerance and suitability to take risk may differ. This article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.





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Ford: A Cheap Stock With High Liquidity Brings Opportunity (NYSE:F)


We penned an article on Ford (F) back on the 10th of June and stated that the automobile manufacturer could easily revisit its March lows. Due to the aggressive move off those March lows, bullish sentiment was increasing despite the suspension of the dividend. We pointed out however that although shares looked cheap at the time, Ford’s valuation in recent times had consistently underperformed the industry averages. Suffice it to say, there was no guarantee that this time would be any different.

Fast forward three weeks-plus to the present day and Ford shares are more or less trading around the same level ($6.05 per share). In the most recent second quarter, management announced that overall sales fell by approximately 33%. Retail sales however helped matters as this segment only lost 14.3% over the same period of 12 months prior. Another encouraging trend is that Ford’s truck division (by far its biggest segment) dropped the least (26.6%) out of the three divisions with the overall sales number for Q2 coming in at 237,891 units.

Bulls will be hoping the new 2021 F-150 will drive buyers back into this market. If the arrival of America’s best-selling truck coincides with the coronavirus vaccine, we may finally see strong pent-up demand coming to the surface.

Between now and then though, risk definitely persists to the downside. For one, the S&P 500 has been practically on a straight-line rally since its lows in March of this year. When this rally finally comes to a halt, we will most likely see our intermediate cycle decline. For example, if we were to say that the present intermediate cycle in the spiders has already topped (at 3232 on the 8th of June last), a 50% retracement from this level (which would be perfectly normal) would retrace the index back to around the 2700 level. A more modest 38% retracement would bring price back to the 2835 level.

Therefore, what Ford investors need to ask themselves is how their shares will perform when the main indices begin their intermediate declines in earnest.

We actually ran a scan where we looked for stocks with greater market caps than $1 billion, option volume over 100,000, book value under 1 and IV percentile over 50. Ford came out on top of the list.

This may be where the opportunity lies in Ford at present. Since its implied volatility is more than 60% at present, its 52-week IV percentile comes in at around 75%. Considering shares are trading with a book multiple of 0.8 at present and the options market is very liquid, we may be able to use some derivative strategies here in order to gain an edge.

If we look at the daily chart for example, we can see that shares now have strong short-term support between the $5.50 level and the $5 level. Shares spent well over two months trading in this range. Furthermore, price has now formed a daily swing and has broken above the down-cycle trend-line. This may mean we get some reprieve from the recent downturn. If indeed, this turns out to be the case, this may bring opportunity for option premium sellers.

The activeness of trading Ford for us is its liquidity. For example, since we do not want to hold of the shares in here, we could sell something like a put spread where our risk is defined. In fact, because the bid/ask spreads are so tight in this stock, trading put spreads in Ford gives us the opportunity to roll spreads out in time (which is something we rarely do due to extra commissions and lack of liquidity). In Ford´s September cycle for example, we have strike prices available every $0.50 which again brings more possibilities to the table for option traders. The September cycle at present is trading with implied volatility of over 58%. Ford´s 52-week implied volatility low comes in at just 16.4%.

Therefore, to sum up, from an encouraging standpoint, shares of Ford have been building support for multiple months now. In saying this, its implied volatility levels have remained above normal. We are looking at put spreads below support levels to take advantage of this volatility. We will put on this trade shortly.

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Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.





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