The 2015 North American International Auto Show is in full swing in Detroit, and there are a ton of flashy and potentially game-changing cars on display. Ford (NYSE:F) rolled out one of the most jaw-dropping cars on day one: the Ford GT. It's a whole new kind of supercar, and signifies that Ford's recent enthusiasm for performance vehicles is here to stay. That is awesome news for enthusiasts, fans, and investors alike.
Here's a look at the three main performance vehicles the Blue Oval revealed in front of the crowd on Monday.
Ford's GT is legit
Just one look at the modern and sleek version of the Ford GT and you can't help but be impressed. While it takes many cues from traditional supercars, such as a mid-mounted engine and a very aerodynamic coupe body, it has something fairly wild: a V6 engine, something that would never have been found under the hood of a supercar in years past. Before writing off the V6 engine as weak, consider that this 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine will generate more than 600 horsepower. Also, consider that Honda's long-awaited 2016 Acura NSX supercar has a V6 engine as well.
Many details of the GT have yet to be released, and Ford has mastered the timing of its press releases to generate optimal hype and coverage that extends over months. But we do know the ultra-high-performance ride will begin production late next year, and that it will tear up the streets in select markets to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars taking the top three spots at the 1966 Le Mans.
While the GT certainly stole the show, Ford also showed off its 2015 Raptor and Mustang 350R.
The same, but better
Comparing the outgoing Raptor with the redesigned model won't reveal many wildly significant appearance changes. However, it could look slightly different by the time it goes on sale in fall 2016. The lack of a major design overhaul isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the new Raptor keeps much of what consumers love about the Raptor's aggressive exterior look, and yet has enough tweaks to make it a better vehicle.
Much as it did with the all-new 2015 F-150, Ford is using aluminum in the new Raptor to save as much as 500 pounds of weight. The truck features high-strength military-grade aluminum alloy for body panels, while the backbone of the Raptor will include even more high-strength steel than the outgoing model.
The new Raptor is half a foot wider than the standard F-150, which helps improve off-road stability, and it also has its first-ever dual exhaust. There are also a couple of engine choices, adding to the flexibility for consumers. The Raptor boasts a new, second-generation, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that Ford claims will produce more power with greater efficiency than the current 6.2-liter V8, which is rated at 411 horsepower and 434 pound-foot of torque. Exact specifics of the new engine, though, were not disclosed.
Last, but certainly not least, is a variation of Ford's iconic pony car. This beast will be the most track-ready and road-traveling production Mustang ever built, but don't expect to see many of these bad boys cruising around your local neighborhood. This car isn't for everybody -- in fact, it's not intended for many people at all; it's for real track enthusiasts. Drivers are sacrificing air conditioning, stereo system, rear seats, trunk floorboard and carpet, backup camera, and emergency tire sealer and inflator, according to Ford. Heck, Ford even scrapped exhaust resonators to shave off a little weight.
"Shelby GT350R's highly efficient aerodynamics, innovative light-weighting and world-class chassis deliver a truly spectacular driving experience that makes you feel like a professional racing driver," said Kerry Baldori, Ford performance chief functional engineer, in a press release.
What it all means
None of these performance vehicles will move the needle on Ford's overall sales, at least not directly. That said, Ford's push to unveil 12 new performance vehicles through 2020 is designed to attract enthusiast drivers, -- who influence mainstream consumers -- as well as a younger and new consumer, and that could boost sales in the years ahead.
That's on top of performance vehicle sales rising 70% in the United States since 2009, which outpaced the overall market growth.
In addition to those two reasons behind Ford's push into performance, this is also an opportunity to design and innovate at a high level, which will have a trickle-down effect for Ford's mainstream vehicles -- so you can expect to see some of its carbon-fiber innovations, technology, and new engines in the years ahead on more affordable models.
All in all, this week's Detroit auto show looks to be a success for Ford, and as the company continues to attract driving enthusiasts and a younger generation, the future bloodline for sales looks to be healthy -- a great thing for Ford investors, fans, and drivers alike.