Highlights of the year’s major events affecting Ford:

  • Ford begins the year trying to quash leaked information indicating it is gearing up to integrate aluminum body panels in its F-150 fullsize pickups in an effort to reduce weight. The reports suggest the next-generation F-150, dubbed P552 and due in 2014, will feature extensive use of weight-saving aluminum, including doors and fenders.
     
  • Ford unveils the ’13 Fusion at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a car executives say will redefine the midsize-sedan segment with its new design and advanced technologies. The new model Fusion will offer an array of powertrains not seen in any other midsize car, including hybrid and plug-in electric-vehicle configurations.
     
  • The Fusion’s platform mate, the Lincoln MKZ concept, also is displayed at the Detroit show. Ford says the new sedan, crafted by newly hired designer Max Wolff, is representative of the direction the luxury marque will take in the future.
     
  • Ford announces it will invest A$103 million ($106.2 million) in its Australian operations for clean technology and additional upgrades across its locally produced Falcon and Territory lines. The funding includes A$34 million ($35.1 million) from the Australian government’s New Car Plan and additional support from the Victoria state government.
     
  • The auto maker says it plans to establish a Silicon Valley research lab that will help it foster current relationships and forge new ones with some of the world’s leading technology companies. The lab, located in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay area in Northern California, will be in close proximity to top tech companies.
     
  • News that Ford’s Derrick Kuzak,  group vice president-global product development, and Lewis Booth, chief financial officer, will retire in April, surprises industry watchers. Under Booth’s leadership, Ford’s finance team executed a series of moves to shore up the auto maker’s finances following the collapse of Wall Street in 2008. Kuzak, who some credited as the architect of the One Ford plan, was widely respected within the auto maker.
     
  • Joseph Bakaj, Ford vice president-powertrain engineering, says to keep pace with regulations the auto maker will have to modify its engine lineup about every three years, but notes the changes in most cases will be the addition of new technologies to existing engine architectures, not the development of all-new mills.
     
  • Ford says its battery-powered Focus Electric will outrun the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle on a single charge, giving it the highest miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating of any mainstream EV, with a range of 76 miles (122 km) between charges and an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 105 MPGe.
     
  • Ford invests $1.3 billion in its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant to gear up for production of the ’13 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans. The auto maker says the move will create 1,000 new jobs in the Mexican state of Sonora. The new Fusion also will be built at Ford’s AutoAlliance plant in Flat Rock, MI.
     
  • Ford  announces plans to invest $600 million in its Changan Ford Mazda Automobile joint-venture plant in Chongqing, China. The expenditure will expand capacity by 350,000 vehicles, raising Ford’s total capacity in China to 950,000 vehicles annually.
     
  • Mark Fields, Ford president-The Americas, says unexpected strong demand has outpaced production in North America, prompting the auto maker to take steps to boost capacity by some 400,000 units in the U.S.
     
  • Ford  opens a TB13.8 billion ($450 million) plant in Rayong province, Thailand, which will have initial annual capacity of 150,000 units, boosting its overall capacity in the country to 445,000.
     
  • Ford of Europe announces plans to triple production of light vehicles equipped with direct-injected turbocharged EcoBoost engines by 2015. The move will boost output to about 480,000 units, up from 141,000 in 2011.
     
  • Moody's Investors Service raises Ford’s credit rating to investment grade, a move that returns control of the Blue Oval logo to the auto maker. Ford, facing financial difficulty in 2006, raised $23.5 billion in liquidity by pledging as security most of its domestic assets.
     
  • Ford says it will close its Santa Rosa, Laguna, assembly plant in the Philippines as part of its ongoing restructuring of regional manufacturing operations to improve efficiencies and costs. 
     
  • Ford of Europe announces a slew of new products in an effort to boost sales that have been lagging 10.6% through July to 700,200. Among the new offerings on tap are new the FordEcoSport, Kuga and Edge cross/utility vehicles.
     
  • Ford and the Canadian Auto Workers union in September ratify a new 4-year labor agreement that the auto maker says will improve competiveness and create jobs.