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Ford Focus WRC 'Rally Car of the Year'

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Ford Focus WRC Honoured as 'Rally Car of the Year'
The Ford Focus World Rally Car has been named "Rally Car of the Year" at the Autosport Awards 2000.

Introduced in 1999, the Focus WRC has shown glimpses of its full potential, but it was this year the car became a regular event winner.

It was at the penultimate rally of this year in Australia that Focus drivers Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz finally dropped out of the hunt for this year's drivers' world championship, but not before the pair had been carried to victory three times by the M-Sport built machines.

The Ford team finished just 15 points behind manufacturers' champions Peugeot, but the team would have taken the title had the Cumbria-based outfit not been thwarted by McRae's accidents in Corsica and Wales.

"It's more rewarding doing my job, especially when you have got the likes of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz working with you. We have got the same two drivers next year, which is one of the strongest lineups. And for sure, the Ford Focus is going to be even stronger," said M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson said, as he was presented with the award by Jaguar Racing's new Chief Executive Bobby Rahal.

Ford last won the "Rally Car of the Year" award in 1993 with the Escort RS Cosworth.

Ford backed up the Rally Car of the Year award in the recently completed Monte Carlo Rally, where Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya drove their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car into second place and new team-mates François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup finished third.


Largest Five Stage Transfer Press in Europe Starts Up at Land Rover
A new stamping plant is to be opened at Land Rover's Solihull site, representing an investment of £60 million (USD$87 million). The five-stage transfer press at the heart of the plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, will be officially opened by HRH the Duke of Kent.

The plant reached fruition in just 14 months from initial construction to initial run. The giant press, with a total force of more than 8,300 tonnes, will produce up to 58,000 steel or aluminium panels per week. Press changeover, involving the switching of the dies dictating the shape of the panel, can be accomplished inside of 10 minutes, an activity taking several hours on older equipment.

A £4 million (USD$5.8 million) try-out press, on which new tools and maintenance work can be carried out, stands alongside the main press to ensure minimum downtime and disruption in the event of routine maintenance.

"We are delighted with the increase in efficiency that this new press will bring," said Land Rover Solihull Plant Services Director Chris Packwood. "The resulting panels have an unparalleled degree of accuracy and will make a valuable contribution toward boosting quality levels."

The new stamping plant will be the first of several new facilities due to come over the next year, following the announcement in September of a further £130 million (USD$188.9 million) investment in new plant and equipment at the Solihull site.


Volvo Safety Centre Receives Royal Awards
The new Volvo Safety Centre has won the "Vehicle Driver and Passenger Safety Award" category and was also overall winner of the "Premier Award 2000" in the latest Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards -- Volvo's sixth year of such Royal accolades.

Volvo is a six-time recipient of the Prince Michael International Safety Awards.
2000 -- The Volvo Car Safety Centre
1998 -- The Inflatable Curtain of the Volvo S80
1997 -- The Volvo S40/V40
1994 -- The SIPS Bag (Side Impact Protection System) of the Volvo 850
1990 -- The Integrated Child Booster Cushion in the Volvo 960
1989 -- The Mechanical Seat Belt Pre-tensioner

"I have never seen anything else on the scale of the Volvo Safety Centre," His Royal Highness said, after watching a full-scale two-car crash test during his recent visit to the £59m Volvo facility in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The new state-of-the-art safety centre opened earlier this year and uses the know-how accumulated from decades of Volvo's safety research work and the expertise of the foremost safety engineers in the automotive world to carry out sophisticated computerised simulations and component tests -- a unique crash laboratory can simulate actual accidents between two vehicles using two separate tracks that can be angled at up to 90 degrees.

The Prince Michael Road Safety Awards were originally established in 1987 to give public recognition to those who improved road safety in Great Britain. This year, the first international awards have been made in order to recognise achievements and innovations worldwide.


Land Rover Opens Discoveryland for its Children
A new nursery has opened its doors to the first of nearly 100 children of Land Rover employees in a ceremony officiated by HRH the Duke of Kent.

The Discoveryland Nursery will focus attention on all aspects of children's play, entertainment and development throughout the working day. Interactive play and activities that foster interpersonal skills will fill the day.

Grouped according to age and developmental needs, children of will participate in arts, crafts, music, cooking and in- and outdoor play.

"We find parents feel better able to concentrate on their job if they know their children are in good hands," said Angela Farndon, manager of the new centre. "We aim to ensure the children are in a lively, stimulating environment that helps them to prepare for entering the school system later."

Discoveryland will open its doors at 7 a.m. each morning to provide service above and beyond that offered elsewhere and to meet the very special needs of those working on a manufacturing location.

The Discoveryland Nursery was named in a competition among Land Rover employees and replaces the previous smaller facility, which was opened by the Princess of Wales in 1991.


Ford's Comprehensive Sport Utility Safety Strategy Sets New Standard
Ford, the world's leading manufacturer of sport utility vehicles, has unveiled a comprehensive suite of safety technologies it will roll out throughout its entire fleet of SUVs beginning in the 2002 model year.

The safety technologies will alert SUV drivers to low tire pressure; will provide increased accident avoidance capabilities as well as enhanced crash protection; will help SUVs avoid potential rollovers as well as offer increased protection in a rollover; and will also help address crash compatibility issues with smaller vehicles.

"Sport utilities as a class of vehicles are safer overall than passenger cars, and each Ford SUV is among the safest in its class," said Gurminder Bedi, vice president, Ford Truck. "With the leadership actions we are committing to today, we are making the upcoming generation of Ford SUVs even safer."

All Ford SUVs, with first applications beginning in the 2002 model year, will offer an advanced tire pressure monitoring system, and will feature as standard equipment antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution for significantly reduced stopping distances and lowered front bumper beams for better car-to-SUV crash compatibility.

Ford will apply new technology and improved brake system designs to significantly shorten the stopping distances of all Ford SUVs.

The first application of this technology is on the new Explorer. A four-wheel, three-channel antilock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) is standard on 2002 Explorer. The ABS controls the front wheels independently and the rear wheels in tandem during heavy braking -- to improve vehicle control.

ABS with EBD employs dynamic proportioning to achieve shorter stopping distances. It works by measuring braking force versus traction and allocating brake force to the wheels that have the best grip for stopping even before the ABS system kicks in -- this helps reduce braking distance.

For example, 2002 Explorer's stopping distance from 100 km/h is a class-leading 40 meters, a 20 percent improvement from the 50 meters stopping distance for the previous model Explorer.

The direct result of this sophisticated safety engineering capability is that Ford has more U.S. federal safety agency-rated five-star vehicles than any other automotive manufacturer.


Consumers Make Ford Britain's Best-selling New Car Brand for the 24th Consecutive Year
Ford was Britain's best-selling nameplate for both new car and commercial vehicle sales in 2000. A solid sales performance across its entire vehicle range last year saw Ford achieve its 24th consecutive year as Britain's new car market leader, 22nd year as the top-selling light commercial vehicle range and 35th successive year as the medium commercial vehicle leader.

Sales performance highlights in 2000 included:
 Ford was the new car market leader with total sales of 374,342, 16.8 percent of the total market.
 Total new car sales of 2,221,647 are the third highest industry total on record.
 Ford Focus was the top-selling new car in the British market with 114,512 sold.
 Ford Focus was the top-selling fleet car with Ford Mondeo the third best-selling fleet car.
 Ford Fiesta was the second best-selling new car in the retail market, third best-selling car overall and took overall segment leadership with 91,783 sold.
 The Ford Ka took segment leadership with sales of 47,346.
 Ford maintained its overall segment leadership for the 22nd year in the light commercial vehicle sector.
 The Ford Transit -- boosted by the launch of new rear-wheel and front-wheel drive models in 2000 -- continued its leadership of the commercial vehicle market with sales of 48,313, 30.0 percent of the market.
 This marked the 35th successive year for the Ford Transit as Britain's best-selling medium commercial vehicle and of Ford's overall market leadership in this segment.


Biggest Ever Programme for Ford in Rallying
2001 will see Ford operating its most comprehensive programme of rally sport ever. Ford Focus RS WRC cars will be in action on 14 rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship, and on seven national championships across Europe and the Middle East.

Ford Puma Super 1600 cars will tackle six rounds of the world series and a host of top-class national championships, while the low-cost, high-spec Ka Rally car now provides the first step onto Ford's Ladder of Opportunity in five European countries.

"The World Rally Championship is clearly Ford's most important global motorsport activity," commented Martin Whitaker, European director of Ford Racing. "But top-class rallying outside the world championship can also provide a splendid platform on which to demonstrate the speed, durability and advanced technology of Ford products.

Ford starts the 2001 World Rally Championship with the strongest driver lineup of any of the seven manufacturers tackling this year's series. Each of the team's three drivers finished in the top six of the 2000 championship, and with a revised Focus RS rally car at their disposal, the squad has the best chance of success in both the manufacturers' and drivers' series for many years.

"In Colin, Carlos and François we have an incredibly powerful lineup. The raw speed of Colin, the consistency of Carlos and the experience of François, allied to the performance of the new Focus RS World Rally Car, give us a squad with great strength in depth,” said Whitaker.


Land Rover Asserts Dominance in the UK 4x4 Sector
End-of-year sales results have confirmed Land Rover dominance of the UK 4x4 sector with a share of nearly 40 percent. Land Rover total sales were 38,973, up nearly 1.0 percent on 1999. The Freelander was the best-selling Land Rover with sales of 20,758, up 15.5 percent on last year, consolidating Freelander's position as the UK's leading 4x4.

Already established as a leader in Europe and the UK, the new Freelander V-6 petrol and Td4 diesel were launched last September, giving a boost to the total figures. This growth is expected to continue as Freelander enters the Japanese market next month and will follow into the U.S. market later this year.

Commenting on the company's performance, Mike Wright, managing director, Land Rover UK said, "It has been a difficult year in the industry and a particularly challenging one for Land Rover, coming under new ownership half way through the year. Land Rover managed to sustain its growth in the UK throughout the year, climaxing with the launch of the new Freelander models. Since its original launch three years ago, the Freelander has proved undoubtedly to be the best seller from Land Rover."


Ford to Study In-vehicle Electronic Devices with Advanced Simulator to Study Impact of Voice Versus Display Technology
Ford Motor Company will soon open a new high-tech USA$10 million driving simulator laboratory to study driver workload and distraction issues related to new in-vehicle electronic devices.

The new facility will allow researchers to measure a driver's ability to cope with common traffic situations while using cellular telephones, navigation systems and other in-car electronic equipment.

The simulator is Ford Motor Company's first full-scale, moving-base driving simulator and the most capable device of its kind currently owned by any automotive manufacturer in North America.

"We are committed to being the industry safety leader, and that means as we put new technologies into our customers' hands, we have to find the safest way to test it," said Helen Petrauskas, Ford vice president, Environmental and Safety Engineering. "This simulator is yet another tool for Ford Motor Company to better identify ways to enhance telematic systems in vehicles and improve driver safety."

Dubbed VIRTTEX for VIRtual Test Track EXperiment, the Ford Research Laboratory simulator will allow scientists to duplicate highway driving in a safe and controlled laboratory setting, providing another tool for Ford Motor Company to develop user-friendly dashboard devices for its customers.

The first VIRTTEX study, to begin early in 2001, will focus on the demand various in-vehicle tasks place on a driver. The goal is to discover better ways to measure the distraction potential of human/vehicle interfaces of the future. The results of this study and others like it will be released to the world in hopes of achieving a scientific basis for in-vehicle electronic human-machine interface standards.

Driver inattention is cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a major factor in the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS). According to the FARS database, there were 37,043 fatal crashes recorded in 1999. Inattention was recorded as a driver-related factor in 3,823 of these crashes, or 10.3 percent.


Jaguar Worldwide Sales Reach Record High in 2000
Jaguar set a new all-time record in 2000 with worldwide sales of 90,031 cars. This represents a 20 per cent increase on 1999 and reflects the dramatic pace of Jaguar's development as a business, fuelled by the success of S-TYPE, particularly in the United States.

Announcing this record-breaking achievement at the North American International Auto Show, Jonathan Browning, Jaguar's Managing Director said, "2000 was another milestone year in the product-led transformation of Jaguar. Today, we produce a range of high quality, attractive products generating tremendous sales momentum, making Jaguar one of the fastest growing of all car manufacturers.

"This year, we will break through the 100,000 sales threshold as we launch the new Jaguar X-TYPE compact sports saloon later in the year. In addition, we can now look forward to Jaguar becoming a five-car line company with the announcement last week that we intend to put the F-TYPE into production in 2004.

"In the space of five years, Jaguar will have transformed from a two car line niche player to a five car line company and a major force in the global premium car market, and a significant competitor to Mercedes and BMW in every market of the world."

Export performance was again very strong with 75,028 cars, around 80 per cent of Jaguar sales worldwide making a significant contribution to Britain's car industry balance of payments.

Export sales to Continental Europe rose 25.8 per cent to 21,401 cars -- another record -- with virtually every market in Europe reporting all-time record sales during the year. Sales in Italy increased 72 per cent to 3,797 cars; France increased by 48.5 per cent to 2,302 cars; and Belgium increased by 35.1 per cent with 1,606 cars sold.

Major sales gains were also reported from Jaguar's markets outside Europe and North America. Sales in Japan rose 21.7 per cent and in the overseas markets including Australia, China and Singapore, sales rose by a third.


Volvo, America Online Car Launch Exceeds Goals in Reaching Online Auto Buyers
Volvo Cars of North America and America Online, Inc. announced that the first online launch of a new car model has surpassed Volvo's initial goals in reaching online auto buyers.

Recognizing the increased power of the Internet in consumers' daily lives, Volvo chose AOL to create awareness and interest in the launch of its sporty new S60 sedan, bypassing the broadcast media traditionally employed by the automotive industry.

Volvo and AOL teamed up to launch the new car on Oct. 15 with a special offer available exclusively to AOL members. Through this promotion, members are exposed to the Volvo S60 through a variety of areas throughout the service, including the Welcome Screen, banner placements and special content areas. All of these link to the REVOLVOLUTION.COM Web site, where users can view the new car model, customize their vehicle choices, receive information and incentives toward purchasing an S60.

AOL members who purchase a Volvo S60 are able to create their own customized accessories package worth up to $2,100 at no additional cost. The Volvo promotion is also featured on AOL's new Autos Channel, which offers AOL members a wealth of reliable, accurate information, services and tools for car shopping, buying and maintenance throughout the ownership cycle.

Since the Oct. 15 launch, more than 1 million users have visited the REVOLVOLUTION.COM Web site, yielding more than 41 million Web site hits. As a result, more than 20,000 people have configured their own S60 online and contacted a Volvo retailer.

"These preliminary results once again confirm Volvo's belief that the Web has a powerful influence on informed auto buyers' decisions," said Mark LaNeve, president and CEO, Volvo Cars of North America. "While others saw the decision to choose online media over national TV and radio as a risk, we saw it as an opportunity to advance the role of the Web in marketing. Volvo customers are educated, discerning consumers who seek meaningful information. This promotion provides them with the tools to explore the advantages of the S60 and be rewarded with incentives that matter to them."

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