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Monday, December 19, 2011

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Ford Ranger riding into the sunset Ford will produce different midsize Ranger for sale in foreign markets By Susan Feyder McClatchy News Service

MINNEAPOLIS — Roger Johnson talks about his 1998 Ford Ranger with such affection that it’s hard to believe he plans to part with it. He bought the compact truck from his mother 10 years ago, when he was 16, and until a few months ago it was the only vehicle he ever owned. He figures he’s put about 100,000 of the nearly 170,000 miles on it, on hunting and fishing trips and on summer jobs hauling tree branches and sod. He used it to get back and forth between his family’s home on the Iron Range and Minnesota State University-Mankato, where he earned an engineering degree. “It’s a pretty good-looking truck for a 16-year-old, and over the years it’s been very functional for me,” Johnson said. But tastes have changed, and Johnson is selling his Ranger. He recently bought a roomier and more powerful 2006 Ford F-150, the kind of decision many Ranger owners have made in recent years, sticking with Ford but trading up to full-size trucks. That trend led Ford to shut down production of the Ranger, and with it the Twin Cities assembly plant in St. Paul, Minn., the last place the model is made. Since 1992, the Ranger has been the only vehicle pro-

duced at the sprawling facility, which has been part of the landscape in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood for more than eight decades. The last truck comes off the line sometime around Dec. 16. Auto industry analysts and area dealers say the F-150 has been the Ranger’s biggest competition. As Ford and other automakers worked on fuel economy and other improvements to more profitable fullsize trucks, compact pickups like the Ranger lost some of their luster. In 1987, five years after it was introduced, the Ranger compact accounted for more that 20 percent of Ford’s total U.S. truck sales and began an 18-year run as America’s best-selling compact pickup. Ranger sales peaked at 348,358 units in 1999 and have fallen since then, with only 55,364 sold last year, just 5 percent of Ford’s U.S. truck sales. Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, said that in many respects the Rangers of today aren’t that much different from the 1993 model, the last to undergo a major redesign. “This is not the case of Toyota stealing Ranger’s sales,” said Spinella, whose firm specializes in the auto industry. “This is really a case of Ford not keeping Ranger up-todate enough to maintain sales levels.” Besides improved fuel efficiency, the F-150 added fea-

In 1987, five years after it was introduced, the Ranger compact accounted for more that 20 percent of Ford’s total U.S. truck sales and began an 18-year run as America’s bestselling compact pickup. Ranger sales peaked at 348,358 units in 1999 and have fallen since then, with only 55,364 sold last year. tures like the crew cab, which could accommodate up to six people, said Tom Kulick, sales manager at Midway Ford in Roseville, Minn. “People started buying them as their family vehicle, using them for driving around town but also hauling and towing,” Kulick said. “The Ranger just kind of got set to the wayside.” Ranger sales have risen slightly in 2011 and could finish the year at their highest level since 2008. Dealers

Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis star tribune/MCt

After decades of rumors and three years of reprieves, the last Ford Ranger pickup will roll off the line at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant around December 16, 2011, ending an 86-year run of high-wage jobs cranking out everything from the Model T to armored World War II vehicles to Country Squire station wagons in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Highland Park. attribute some of the uptick to an attractive rebate program. Ford has said there’s been a last-minute rush from buyers who know that after this year the vehicle won’t be made in the United States. Ford will produce a new and different midsize Ranger in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina for sale in foreign markets. Ford first used the Ranger name on a styling package for heavier F-Series pickup trucks in 1965 but dropped the name a couple of years later. It revived the Ranger

name for the all-new compact pickup it began making in 1982. Ford had acquired a minority stake in Mazda, and the Ranger was basically a Mazda pickup designed to compete with Japanese automakers’ compact, fuelefficient trucks. Michael Saxon, owner of two Ford dealerships in Minnesota, said the Ranger appealed to two types of buyers. Small businesses found it useful for short delivery trips. Individual buyers used it to get around during the week and then for recreation on weekends. “If they had a lit-

tle fishing boat, a snowmobile trailer or wanted to go biking, it was ideal,” he said. Saxon believes it would have been difficult for Ford to invest in improvements without substantially increasing the Ranger’s price. “It would have put it too close to the price of a fullsize, and people would say, ‘For that little difference I’ll just get the full-size truck,’ “ he said. “I think Ford hung in there (with the Ranger) longer than it had to.” Kulick recalls the exciteSee RANGER, Page 2


Page 2 / Monday, December 19, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

Motorcycle show rolls across country By Susan Carpenter

15 percent through October, according to Motorcycle Safety Foundation Vice President Rob Gladden. The signs bode well for the industry and the 31st annual International Motorcycle Shows, whose stop at the Long Beach Convention Center started Friday.

“Everybody’s cautiously optimistic. We expect an increase in show attendance in Long Beach and across the tour, and that’s good,” said Mike Caudill, spokesman for the International Motorcycle Shows. Caudill points to strong advance ticket sales for the

Long Beach show and the kickoff of this year’s 12-city tour in San Mateo, Calif., last month, which, according to an exit survey, saw an increase in attendance over last year, and more time and money spent on the floor by attendees. The Long Beach stop is

particularly important for the industry because Southern California is the nation’s largest market for motorcycles. This year’s Long Beach show will mark the North American debuts of several groundbreaking products, including two new scooters

from BMW, a trio of electric motorcycles from Brammo, Ducati’s most powerful Panigale superbike, Triumph’s newest Tiger and a not-yetrevealed cruiser from Victory Motorcycles. The show, which will run through the weekend, will also include a new Dream Pavilion packed with boutique products including a Norton Commando 961, MV Agusta F3, KTM RC8 R and Erik Buell Racing 1190RS. A Century of Motorcycling, a retrospective presented by Motorcyclist magazine, will be on display as well. “We know from research that there’s still interest in motorcycles. The trick is to give people a reason to buy,” said Pieter de Waal, vice president of BMW Motorrad USA. BMW’s 180-horsepower S 1000 RR superbike, introduced in 2009, has become the company’s bestseller. This year BMW followed up that success with its K 1600 LT six-cylinder sport-touring bike. Late next year, it will introduce its first scooters. All four vehicles will be on display this weekend along with the rest of BMW’s 2012 lineup. “If there’s a ‘wow’ effect, then we see success,” de Waal said. “More than anything else, you have to believe in the future. And you have to be brave when you design a motorcycle. You cannot go for middle of the road anymore. People who buy motorcycles don’t need to. It’s an emotional, irrational purchase.”

area dealers who picked up their first new Ranger models at a big event Ford held at the Mall of America in October 1992. When dealers arrived, they found more than 200 red, white and blue Rangers arranged in front of the

Bloomington, Minn., mall in the shape of a gigantic American flag and spelling out the Ford name. “You got your picture taken with your vehicle and the regional manager and then you drove them away,” Kulick said. “It was pretty cool. That

was a neat thing about being close to a plant.” The photo still hangs in Tichenor’s office. Johnson, who admits he’ll probably feel some twinges when he sees the new owner of his Ranger drive the truck away, was surprised when

he heard about Ford’s plans to stop making Rangers for the U.S. market. “That seems kind of strange,” he said. “I knew they were closing the plant, but I figured they would still sell them.” As an engineer, Johnson

said he can appreciate the drive to make full-size trucks better, but he has a hard time believing there’s no place in the market for the Ranger. “You can do just about anything with it,” he said. “It’s a pretty dang good little truck.”

McClatchy News Service

LOS ANGELES — After several bumpy years, the motorcycle industry is hoping for smoother roads ahead as the International Motorcycle Shows tour rolls into Long Beach, Calif., this weekend. Since the economy began significantly losing ground in 2008, annual new-motorcycle sales in the United States have plunged by about half to some 300,000 units, as money-conscious consumers chose not to make the oftendiscretionary purchases. After falling 41 percent in 2009 and 14 percent last year, sales of new motorcycles are mostly flat this year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, and are likely to remain there as long as the economy remains stagnant. Still, there are glimmers of hope. Despite sluggish sales, motorcycling in general has been increasing. The number of vehicle miles traveled on motorcycles has been rising since 2003, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. Tire sales have also been increasing. Sales are up 10 percent through the third quarter of 2011 from the same period last year, signaling that more people are keeping their motorcycles longer and will eventually need to look at replacing them with new vehicles. And attendance at California’s Motorcyclist Safety Program classes in 2011 increased more than

Ranger From Page 1

ment that surrounded the introduction of the redesigned 1993 Ranger. He and Midway Ford owner Ed Tichenor were among

Glenn KoeniG/los AnGeles Times/mCT

Tony Garnica rolls in an antique Harley Davidson at the International Motorcycle Show at the Long Beach Convention Center on December 8. Since the economy began significantly losing ground in 2008, annual new-motorcycle sales in the United States have plunged by about half.


OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

TD-0000194115

Monday, December 19, 2011 / Page 3


Page 4 / Monday, December 19, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

Sporty version of smallest BMW isn’t worth extra cost By Mark Phelan

2012 BMW 1M

McClatchy News Service

New for 2011, the BMW 1M adds power and performance to the Bavarian automaker’s smallest model, but at a daunting price. The 1M is part of BMW’s renowned M line, which produces the sportiest versions of many of the brand’s models. The new 1M coupe is a clever exercise in life-cycle management, and a good, but not great, car. The 1M’s increase in power and performance is relatively modest. A costconscious shopper should seriously consider the slightly less powerful BMW 135i, or a less-expensive small sporty model from mainstream brands. The Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo or Subaru WRX STi may not match BMW’s prestige, but how much is the blue and white BMW roundel worth to you? The attractive 1M is fast and marvelously responsive. Its interior offers some welcome upgrades from the mainline 1-series. Overall, though, the improvements are relatively mild for an M vehicle. Since 1972, BMW’s M division has boosted the performance of the automaker’s vehicles by increasing their power and reducing their weight. In addition to producing some tremendously exciting cars, this serves several purposes: n It reinforces the idea that BMWs are the ultimate driving machines. n It gives the most performance-oriented BMW owners something special to enjoy and brag about. n It pads the bottom line. n It injects new life into vehicles that are about to be replaced by new, presumably better, models. BMW’s entertaining subcompact 1-series is a perfect candidate for an M

n Base Price: $46,135 (excluding destination charge) n Price as tested: $49,035

BMW/MCT

New for 2011, the BMW 1M adds power and performance to the Bavarian automakerês smallest model.

The 2011 1M is faster, lighter and more powerful than the admirable 135i that’s one price rung lower in BMW’s smallest car line, but not enough to justify the extra cost. The 1M also lacks some features — voice-recognition, standard Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls — a $46,000-plus subcompact should have. makeover. A new version is on the horizon. (The new 1-series hatchback is already on sale in Europe. A U.S.bound coupe and convertible can’t be far behind.) The 2011 1M is faster, lighter and more powerful than the admirable 135i that’s one price rung lower in BMW’s smallest car line, but not enough to justify the extra cost. The 1M also lacks some features — voice-recognition, standard Bluetooth

for hands-free phone calls — a $46,000-plus subcompact should have. Prices for the 2011 1M start at $46,135. The car comes with a 335-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter inlinesix engine and six-speed manual transmission. The 1M I tested had a hands-free phone system, power front seats, memory, an iPod adapter and a few other options. It cost $49,035. All prices exclude

destination charges. The 1M’s most-obvious competition is the $31,050 135i, which has a singleturbo version of the same straight-six engine. It produces a perfectly satisfactory 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The 135i accelerates to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. The 1M is 77 pounds lighter than the 135i; 35 pounds of the decrease is because it doesn’t have a sunroof.

It has 332 pound-feet of torque, with brief spikes to 370 pound-feet thanks to an overboost feature that cranks up the turbo for allout acceleration. Other potential competitors include V6 versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang — 323 and 305 horsepower, respectively — and Japan’s all-wheel drive pocket rockets, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru WRX STI.

All those cars have more functional rear seats than the little 1M, though none is especially practical. The 1M’s real shortcoming is that it invites comparisons to cars like a Camaro, Evo, Mustang and WRX. BMW’s M models should be above such things. T he 1M comes from BMW’s renowned M division, which produces the sportiest versions of many of the brand’s models. Despite that, the 1M is marvelously enjoyable to drive. The steering is as precise as a hunting scope. The chassis holds rock-steady through fast curves. The 1M’s ventilated, cross-drilled brakes promise smooth and confident stops time after time. The front seat provides plenty of room, but could use more storage bins for phones, iPods, sunglasses and the like. The interior trim features leather seats and Alcantara inserts on the doors and dash. The gauges are big and legible, with a soft white illumination I prefer to BMW’s usual orange. The 10.3-cubic-foot trunk holds enough luggage for a weekend getaway. A folddown rear seat increases cargo space. The most notable exterior changes are big wheel arches and the car’s wider track. The sides feature chrome M badges. The grille has three large openings for engine cooling. The 1M delivers some sizzle for the last year or so of the current 1-series’ life, but other small sporty cars offer a better combination of value and performance.


Monday, December 19, 2011 / Page 5

OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

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Page 6 / Monday, December 19, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

Under The Hood: Diagnostic tools have come a long way By Brad Bergholdt McClatchy News Service

QUESTION: I just got back from taking my pickup into the shop because it was running rough. It’s a smaller place with good people, and I enjoy having a chance to speak with the fellow that does all the work. As a conversation starter, I commented they’d need to put her on the scope, and the young man chuckled and said they don’t do that anymore. He showed me his computer scanner and said it could also do scopelike things that were different than I remembered from the old days.

I didn’t want to ask more since he was now running on my nickel, but I was curious to learn more about his fancy tool, which was the size of a phone book. Can you please fill me in? —Melvin Chambers A: It sounds like your tech was using a diagnostic tool similar to a Snap-On Modis or Versus, which combine the functions of a scan tool and digital storage oscilloscope, along with additional cool features. A scan tool connects to the vehicle’s data link connector and provides access to diagnostic trouble codes, powertrain, brake system,

body and other system data, and allows functional testing of components and switch input tests. Among other features, the scan tool can also check for emissions test readiness, serve as a flight recorder and dispense expert diagnostic troubleshooting information. Large, roll-around automotive tune-up scopes, or oscilloscopes, have largely gone by the wayside along with carburetors, distributors and spark plug wires. While a very capable tool, many of the things a scope checked just aren’t found on a car or truck anymore. Another limitation was the

power cord — you couldn’t road-test very far with the scope plugged in. With the explosion in electronics technology in today’s vehicles, it’s important to be able to view rapidly occurring electrical signals such as sensor signals, component commands and module-to-module communication while driving down the road. These tests are sometimes needed to go beyond the vagueness of many diagnostic troublecode descriptions and basic voltmeter tests. A portable automotive digital storage oscilloscope, or DSO, provides waveform images of electrical signals,

which are scrutinized for shape and consistency, similar to a doctor viewing an EKG. Better tools of this type also include a database of component tests and procedures, and samples of good and bad waveforms. Some tool manufacturers package the scan tool and DSO into one convenient and expensive package, which can range from $7,000 to $10,000. Snap-On’s Versus goes further by including access to technical information, such as service manual and diagrams; shop management software; and Internet connectivity. Technician productivity is improved, as one tool can do

all this from the driver’s seat, as well as order a pizza to be delivered for lunch. As you might imagine, a savvy auto technician needs to know far more than just how to use these tools. The real challenge is interpreting the avalanche of provided information and creating an appropriate diagnostic path, following it to a solid fix, and validating repair effectiveness. —Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif. Readers may send him email at under-thehood@earthlink.net; he cannot make personal replies.

China to levy tariffs on US Ford F-150 named Motor Trend Truck automakers for sedans, SUVs of the Year – for the fourth time By Greg Gardner

By Todd Spangler McClatchy News Service

WASHINGTON — China’s Commerce Ministry announced Wednesday it will levy tariffs on U.S. automakers for imports of sedans and SUVs, touching off bipartisan criticism of Chinese officials in the nation’s capital. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., issued a joint statement saying that China’s action, which will directly affect Detroit-area automakers, is unjustifiable. “Unfortunately, this appears to be just one more instance of impermissible Chinese retaliation against the United States and other trading partners,” the congressmen said in the statement. They added that it appears the decision violates China’s commitments to the World Trade Organization and asked President Barack Obama and his trade officials to “exercise all available option to enforce U.S. rights.”

According to China.org.cn, the authorized government Web portal to China, the Commerce Ministry announced anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on sedans and SUVs with engines of 2.5 liters and above imported from the U.S. The statement said an investigation showed evidence of dumping — a term for selling products at prices below those supported by local competition. Effective Thursday, importers of related vehicles from the U.S. will be required to set aside deposits with Chinese customs ranging from 2 percent to 12.9 percent of sales, according to the level of dumping and the level of subsidy U.S. automakers received from their government, the ministry said. The duties will expire on Dec. 14, 2013. The ministry said U.S. automakers, including General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, received government subsidies and dumped their vehicles in to the Chinese market, which harmed China’s auto industry. The

Obama administration and, before it, the administration of President George W. Bush, invested some $80 billion in taxpayer funds to rescue the two companies. According to the U.S.-China Business Council, the U.S. exported $4.5 billion worth of vehicles to China in 2010, an increase of more than 130 percent from the previous year. But for GM at least, the duties should only affect about 11,000 larger vehicles. GM noted that it has long supported the development of China’s auto industry and that its imports are less than half of 1 percent of the company’s domestic production in China. “GM and its partners are working with relevant authorities to understand the impact of the Chinese government’s decision to lift the suspension of anti-dumping and countervailing duties and to seek a solution consistent with a constructive global trade environment, which we believe is important to both China and the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Motor Trend magazine named Ford’s F-150 the Truck of the Year, edging out the Nissan NV commercial van, the Ram HD Laramie Longhorn and the Toyota Tacoma. The magazine’s editors presented the award Monday to Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas at a ceremony at the company’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. While Motor Trend tested versions of the pickup with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine, it was Ford’s 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine that helped capture the award. Ford officials now expect the EcoBoost V-6 to be selected by 45 percent of F-150 buyers. Truck owners traditionally have expected their rigs to be outfitted with a V-8 engine, but Ford’s EcoBoost V-6 is changing that perception. Automakers are pushing for better fuel economy in the pickup segment where muscle has been measured in displacement until volatile

AssociAted Press files

Motor Trend magazine named Ford’s F-150 the Truck of the Year, edging out the Nissan NV commercial van, the Ram HD Laramie Longhorn and the Toyota Tacoma. gasoline prices and a shaky economy changed priorities for many consumers. The EcoBoost equipped F-150s average 18 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, according to federal government ratings, compared to 14 to 17 mpg for eight-cylinder models. The turbocharged V6 gives the truck more towing power than the larger

5.0-liter V8. “It mastered every task we subjected it to, acing our instrumented tests at the proving grounds and swaying opinions during our realworld road evaluations,” Motor Trend Editor-In-Chief Ed Loh said of the F-150 in an announcement. The F-150 also took top honors from Motor Trend in 2009, 2004 and 1997.


Monday, December 19, 2011 / Page 7

OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

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