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Local News

Ford Prepares for Production of 2013 Escape SUV

Ford Motor Company will soon begin filling spots at the Louisville Assembly Plant to maintain two full-time production shifts to build the new 2013 Escape.

“We just finished with our preproduction builds. We’re right now doing all the work stations and everything else and probably most of the maintenance guys are going through orientations on some of the transference, finishing them up,” said Steve Stone, the local United Auto Workers’ bargaining chairman.

The plant should have two full shifts up and running in the middle of March, including nearly 2,900 workers who will soon crank out the new Escape, he said. This will add nearly 700 positions to the 2,200 that have been working on a pre-production build of the sport utility vehicle.

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Local News State of the News

Ford Escape at the LA Auto Show

Friday on State of the News we called Courier-Journal reporter Jere Downs, who was in Los Angeles at the LA Auto Show. She and WFPL reporter Devin Katayama discussed the unveiling of the 2013 Ford Escape, which will be built in Louisville. This year Ford has sold over 200,000 Escapes. Those numbers may give Louisville reason to be optimistic since nearly 1,800 jobs depend on how the new model sells.

The Escape boasts a mileage rating of approximately 30mpg, with a sticker price of roughly $20,000 or less, and Downs believes this will bring it success at dealerships when compared to its competitors. She was also impressed by the attention to detail on the interior, a marked change from the models of prior years.  Sales figures will directly determine employment needs in Louisville.

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Blog Archive Environment Blog

Vegas or Bust: Homemade Vehicles Race for the Finish

When you think of race cars, you probably think of a muscular, noisy, advertisement-wrapped, 750 horsepower Dodge V8.

Or perhaps you think of a 1973 El Camino powered by wood chips.

Whichever image comes to mind, you have to hand it to the adventurous–and slightly nutty–competitors in the Escape from Berkeley race. Competitors race from Berkeley to Las Vegas (about a 600 mile drive) in a vehicle that runs on anything but petroleum-based fuels.  The catch?  They can only start out with one gallon of their fuel of choice, and they have to figure out how to find more en route.Runs on a wood-fired burner with steam generator!  Not great for inclement weather, however.

I might have assumed everyone would enter a vegetable oil-powered car, but boy, that would have been narrow-minded.  Sure, there were your typical veggie oil entries. But one used the leftover grease to power a steam engine; another processes said oil on board.  Some entrants carried on-board gasifiers, which can turn nearly any carbon-based material, from branches to grass clippings, into power.  One vehicle carries solar panels to augment pedal-power; another guzzles 190-proof ethanol.

Today, the vehicles are in the home stretch.  Only a few have survived this tough route, which winds through a treacherous mountain pass.  But it will have been worth it: whoever crosses the finish line first gets $5000. This being sponsored by a Berkeley organization, of course, there are some extra awards for:

– Most difficult engineering problem attempted
– Most energy conversion steps between source and road
– Worst idea actually made to kind of work
– Sexiest vehicle on the road
– Worst affront to sensible automotive aesthetics
– Smallest GHG [greenhouse gas] footprint between Berkeley and Vegas

I’d like to suggest that instead of spraying the victory champagne over the crowd, the winners pour it directly into the fuel tank for the return trip.