Ford Puma reborn as ‘hybrid’ and technological SUV
Before a small coupe, the model follows the global trend. In all, the model has 12 sensors, 3 radars and 2 cameras, as well as cloud systems, which help in safer driving. Ford has brought the Puma back to life – now, though, the old coupe follows the world trend and assumes the SUV identity, also as part of the brand’s overall strategy. Made in Romania, the model will reach the European market in 2019 and is not planned for Brazil.
First of all, forget about the little sports car manufactured in Brazil between the 1960s and 1990s and used, among others, Volkswagen engines and fiberglass body. In Europe, the name Puma was used for a coupe made in Germany between 1997 and 2001, based on the Fiesta of fourth generation. See photos at the end of the story. Now a compact SUV, the Puma comes back with the promise of alluring eye-catching looks, good space and technology.
From the outside, he inherits many references from his ancestor, having the headlights as the main one. The pieces are in a higher position and have a shape that refers to the eyes of the cat that lends its name to the model 750i sedan indoor cover.
In the rear, the lanterns also have high positioning and there are well-defined creases. The side also has references: the rising line of windows and the volume that forms “muscles” above the rear wheels – which, in the case of the SUV, can be 18 or 19 inches.
Ford did not disclose the measures of the new Puma, just the 456-liter trunk capacity, slightly larger than the 437-liter Honda HR-V.
Following the promise that all of its new models will have at least one electrified version, the Puma arrives initially with two options of the same engine – always aided by a “light hybrid” system.
The engine is the 1.0 turbo three-cylinder Ecoboost line, which can deliver 125 or 155 horsepower. Allied to it is the “light hybrid” system, which replaces the conventional alternator with a 48-volt battery. The gearbox can be either 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic.
The solution is the same already used in other brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi, and promises faster outputs, torque up to 50% higher at low revs, fuel economy (up to 17.2 km / l in the less powerful version) and reduction in turbo lag.
Two other technologies are available for more efficiency: the start-stop, which promises to reconnect the vehicle in up to 300 milliseconds (almost the same time as a blink), and the deactivation of cylinders when full capacity is not required.
Following the launch, Ford will introduce a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission and a diesel engine option.
The focus of the new Puma is the technology focused on semi-autonomous systems. In all, there are 12 sensors, 3 radars and 2 cameras that monitor the surroundings of the vehicle. From the monitoring, there are adaptive autopilots, recognition of road signs (speed and forbidden traffic, assistant in the lane, warning of danger on the road (such as accidents, objects in the lane, animals, among others) and back cross traffic.
Rear view Camera
There is also blind spot alert, rear view camera with 180 °, imminent collision detector, semi-autonomous parking system, automatic high beam and a system that detects a drastic change of the ground, such as transition from asphalt to gravel, preparing the direction of the vehicle.
Seats and other Accessories
The front seats have massagers, there are panoramic sunroof, digital dashboard, multimedia center with 8-inch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wifi modem, charging wireless smartphones and Bang &Olufsen sound with 10 speakers.
Until not long ago, pickup trucks were known for their robustness and “bravery” inversely proportional to refinement. Automatic shift was luxury, and rear seat passengers had the same level of comfort as a bench seat. For everyone’s sake, the situation has changed a lot. Pickup trucks are more and more like carriages. In that sense, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok have always contested the informal title of model that best treats driver and occupants – with slight advantage to the pickup of German origin. Ford intends to reverse this situation with changes in the 2020 line of its average pickup truck. In addition to the look retouched in the front, changes were made in aspects such as exchange and suspension, in addition to an improvement in the level of equipment.
The Ranger was already known for offering more safety equipment than its rivals. It was the only one, for example, to rely on adaptive speed control, which keeps distance for the vehicle traveling ahead. Another exclusivity was the track maintenance assistant with trajectory correction (the Chevrolet S10 only alerts the driver). Now, Ford has strengthened the package, including, in the top-of-the-line version, Limited, automatic emergency braking. At speeds between 5 km / h and 60 km / h, the pickup truck is able to detect other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. If the driver does not react, the Ranger can stop alone. When the speed is higher, the collision is not avoided, but the impact is minimized.
600 new parts
Ford says the Ranger 2020 had 600 pieces redesigned. The smallest part, it is true, can not even be seen. Even employees at the company’s plant in General Pacheco, Argentina, may have difficulty finding the differences.
And almost all are concentrated in the front. Although the grid maintains the format, the internal elements have been redesigned. The bumper is also new, and had the air intakes repositioned. In the top-of-the-line version, the headlights are xenonium.
Wheels and stirrups
Wheels and stirrups are the only novelties on the side. Already the rear only gained a new graphism with the name of the model. One thing that can certainly be noticed is the addition of a spring in the hopper lid. It drastically reduces the effort the user has to make to open or close the door.
Division by weight
There is still another set of pieces that, if they can not be seen, will certainly be perceived by the occupants. Ford did an intensive job of improving the suspension – based on customer complaints that the pickup was not as comfortable for those who traveled in the backseat. The solution, according to Gilmar de Paula, head of the pickup project in South America, was to divide the suspension set by weight bands. Until then, all versions had the same adjustment.
Engine of Ford Ranger
Now those with 2.2 (lighter) engines will have a hit, while the 3.2 (heavier) ones will have another one. The company says it has redesigned the stabilizer bar, changed springs and shock absorbers, reinforced the struts and improved the cushions.
One striking aspect is the lightness of the electric direction. Only Ranger and S10 have this type of assistance – which is hydraulic in all others. However, because it is a larger and heavier vehicle than a passenger car, the assistance could be lower. In addition to being very light, the steering gets a bit “loose”, especially at speeds above 100 km / h.
Skips less on Rough Terrain
In terms of performance, however, Ford picks up the worst on Amarok. Even though its 3.2-liter 5-cylinder engine delivers good 200 horsepower and 47.9 kgfm, it falls short of the 225-hp V6 and 56.1 kgfm of the rival.
Power and Acceleration
The G1 also accelerated the XLS version, equipped with 2.2 engine of 160 hp and 39.3 kgfm. Interestingly, in this configuration, the Ranger proved to be more friendly to drive – probably because of the lower weight. In both cases, the 6-speed automatic transmission features smooth and quiet changes.
Bet on diesel
Ford took out versions of the Ranger with a flex-engine . The justification, according to the company, is that models with this motorization account for less than 10% of sales in the segment, considering all brands.
Fighting only with diesel versions, Ford will attempt to take third place in average pickup sales in Brazil. Who currently holds the position? Yes, the model most similar to Ranger: Amarok.
Even with the improvements in equipment, dynamic adjustment and a renewed look, in addition to the lowest price, Ranger can hardly bother Hilux and S10 in sales. In addition to fighting for the third position, Ranger and Amarok, strangely enough, may find themselves in the not too distant future. Volkswagen and Ford have entered into a partnership to develop commercial vehicles . They have already announced that they will work together on a next medium-sized truck.
Production process of Ford
- How to make the New Fiesta Hatch?
The Ford factory in São Bernardo do Campo has been responsible since 2013 for the global production of the New Fiesta Hatch. 115,000 units are produced per year, which supply Brazil and five other countries. To inaugurate the section “How to do it”, EXAME.com followed the whole process of producing a car .
- Straight on steel
The steel alloy plates arrive in this way to the stamping, where they will be molded until they reach the shape of the body part – or car body – necessary.
The plates are inserted in the presses, which in addition to cutting the steel, mold it in the necessary form and extend it to its plastic limit, so that it obtains, besides the drawing, the ideal hardness.
- Pressing the steel
The presses have tools, which can be changed to give the desired shape: with one tool the inner part of a door is made, with another one, a fork, for example. The flaps of the unused plates are resold so that they are melted and the steel reused.
- 900 strokes
Each press is capable of giving 900 strokes per hour, and it is possible to produce up to four pieces per stroke. At the São Bernardo plant, there are six presses.
- With the naked eye
After leaving the press, the pieces are separated and undergo a first inspection with the naked eye. Any part that cannot be used joins the steel flaps to be resold and melted.
From a steel plate, the presses are able to make parts like this inner part of the engine cap. Ford invested 800 million reais in plant upgrades to produce the new line.
Once separated, the pieces go through another inspection, this time more detailed: trained professionals use their own touch to look for irregularities. After that, a special oil signals small scratches or wrinkles.
- In the body shop
In the area called body shop, the parts produced in the stamping are assembled to shape the body of the car. From the floor, a whole body will be produced.
- Gaining Shape
At the same time as the floor is prepared, other parts, such as the sides, are assembled separately, and then join the rest of the car.
- As a team
Larger parts are first seated, then welded by robots. Everything is done on an assembly line and each car passes from 30 seconds to 1 minute with each team.
- On the treadmill
After fitting the side parts, the body goes to another assembly line, to receive the roof of the car and to be welded. The car starts to take shape.
- The skeleton
This is a body inside. All holes for fitting, whether of large parts or small screws, must be considered in the design of each part, so that the assembly process can be done without failures.
After the car roof is placed, the body passes through a second line of robots, which will make the necessary welds.
- Robots in action
Robots make the necessary welds. This line has six pairs of robots, which perform the process simultaneously, also in a matter of seconds.
- By parts
While the car body is mounted, other parts such as doors and engine and trunk covers are being produced separately. The process is almost entirely automated.
- Small repairs
The doors have their own assembly line. If an employee identifies a small defect, it is removed from the treadmill for repairs and then replaced.
- Joining the body
The doors arrive by an air rail to the area where another team joins them to the body of the car, with the help of robots. At this stage, the first adjustments to the hinges are already made.
- Door cover
The engine and trunk covers go through the same process and are placed in their places after the doors are ready.
- Light tunnel
Once assembled, the complete body will pass through the lighting tunnel, where a detailed inspection will be made. The space between the lamps is calculated so that the passage of light into the shadow facilitates the visualization of small scratches or dents.
- Fine settings
Should any minor glitches be identified, a staff member is responsible for removing it with special sanding paper. The same body goes through at least two staffs before being released.
Before painting itself, the body goes through a washing process that starts with the degreaser, to rid it of the oil from the parts that come from the stamping and the waste from the hopper. The process is all done with jets of degreasers and detergents, at high pressure and temperature.
Thereafter, the body is passed through an immersion bath to receive phosphate crystals. In addition to completing the cleaning, the solution prepares the car for the first layer of products.
- Water bath
The car passes a jet-water bath, to eliminate possible residues of the products used for cleaning.
- First protection
The body is immersed in a tank to receive its first layer of products: an electrophoretic paint. On average, the tank receives simultaneously 4 vehicles that are immersed in 320 thousand liters of paint.
- Ready for ink
This layer is called E-coat and, besides preparing the steel for the paint itself, it protects against external and internal corrosion. It gives the body a greenish look.
- Hands in the Mass
Ready for painting, the body goes through the process of caulking, where employees apply mass and PVC inside the car and under the floor. The masses protect against the beat of small stones and against corrosion.
- Jet Ink
Finally, the painting itself is applied, by means of robots, to the body. At the St. Bernard factory, there are six color options: Arctic White, Dublin Silver, Bristol Black, Vermont Red, Arizona Red and California Blue.
- Coat of paint
After that, a varnish is applied, also automatically, to protect the paint and give shine to the body. After the application of the varnish, the cars are taken to furnaces at temperatures of 140ºC for the fixing of the layers.
- One more inspection
The body then passes through another lighting tunnel for a second inspection. At the same time, the door rubbers are placed and the carriage goes to the final assembly.
In the assembly, the cars, which have been separated into categories, receive all their internal parts. The doors are removed and assembled separately.
The body receives protection, to avoid that its painting is damaged during the process. In the various lines of the building, the parts that are later inserted into the body, such as the dashboard and engine, are assembled.
- Mounting the structure
While the smaller parts are assembled, the body is being prepared to receive them. In this phase structures like the engine support are placed.
- Internal parts
Ceilings and carpets are also introduced at this stage, while the body is prepared to receive the whole electrical installation.
- Returning to doors
After placing the taillights, the doors, which have been mounted on a separate line, are put in place. So operators do not have to carry weight, the doors are erected by robots and employees only direct them to the right place.
In addition to the installation, in the line of high mechanics a first adjustment of the axes is made. The process is aided by robots, but the adjustments are made by operators.
- Filling the tanks
With the car already being lowered, all the fluids necessary for its operation are placed: oil, fuel, air conditioning fluid, water for windscreen wipers etc.
- Quality Inspection
Mounted the car, it goes through several inspection steps. The first is done on all doors and covers, to see if they are opening and closing with the desired force.
- Electrical test
The motors are connected and tested as well as all wiring. The procedure is called CBT (Current Based Test).
- The first round
An operator tests the pedals and takes the first turn with the car, taking it to another inspection area. Employees are trained to detect any unusual noise.
- Noise test
All headlights and lanterns are switched on and off, and the car goes through a track with various types of terrain to check if there is any undue noise in any of them. After that, a final check is made to see if all necessary items are present and the car is ready for delivery.