T his year’s North American International Auto Show has proved itself to be one full of surprises as it opened to the public last week in Detroit. While event-goers are treated to an array of SUVs, concept cars, and forward looking models, it was the stunning Ford GT that stole the limelight in a surprise unveil as it thundered onto the stage. So hidden, in fact, that even Ford staff may have been surprised to see it. “People knew something was going on down there [in the design studio],” Ford’s VP of design Moray Callum said in an interview with Forbes, “they just didn’t know what!”
Based on the legendary GT40 commissioned by Henry Ford to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans, this impressive racing car pushes all of Ford’s available technology to the next level. Most obvious of this is the EcoBoost engine based on the engine architecture serving Ford’s IMSA Daytona prototype. The twin-turbocharged 3.5liter EcoBoost V6 boasts 600hp and will be paired with the seven-speed dual clutch transaxle for smooth gear changes and incredible driver control. A top speed of greater than 200mph is expected along with an impressive 0-60 of around 3 seconds.
The Ford GT, the company’s first GT since 2005, may pay homage to its predecessors, but it’s by no means hung up on history. The aggressive and aerodynamic shape of the car speaks volumes about the industry as a whole and there is evidence that the market will be able to support such an expensive and bold expansion into fast cars as the public’s appetite for performance vehicles has grown 70% since 2009.
Auto-market analysts conclude that now is the right time to push into high-end niche markets: “Times are good; you’re not going to be able to do this kind of expansion in bad times,” said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at Auto Pacific. Sales in luxury cars are currently robust around the world, with China’s luxury car sales predicted to surpass the US as early as next year, and to equal that of Western Europe by 2020. Unlike many other thriving auto-markets, China provides a sizable opportunity for latecomers: while some 80% of premium cars in China come from German auto-makers, a McKinsey report states that “Japanese and US attackers still have a chance to create a market footprint [in China]”.