Ford Motor Co. introduced a GT supercar Monday with more than 600 horsepower generated by a twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine.
The carbon-fiber body sparkled like a blue gem as executive chairman Bill Ford and chief executive Mark Fields announced that it would go into production next year.
The car will be priced above $150,000, said a person familiar with the plan, when it goes on sale, some 50 years after the original GT40 swept the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Ford plans to return to the race, said the person, who asked not to be identified revealing internal plans.
Ford said it developed the car in just a year, which is fast for an industry that typically takes three years to bring a car to market.
“This car literally is a showcase for all the innovation and technology we put in across our product line,” Fields told reporters after the showing. “In the car business, it’s about making people’s hearts pound.”
Ford also introduced an F-150 Raptor and the Shelby GT350R at the Detroit auto show Monday. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said it will offer 12 performance vehicles by 2020.
Fields’ brainchild, the new GT has been developed under the internal code name Project Phoenix, said the person. The race car will be powered by a turbocharged EcoBoost engine that maximizes fuel efficiency.
The new GT will also return to Le Mans next year on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s historic win at the legendary European race, the person said. GT40 racers finished first, second and third at Le Mans in 1966, as benefactor Henry Ford II, the company’s chief and grandson of the founder, looked on. The GT40 was the first American race car to win the grueling race and the first U.S. car to win a major European race since 1921.
After a year in which Ford lost almost a point of U.S. market share, the automaker is eager to show it will come back in 2015, as the F-150 reaches dealers and now is joined by some sizzle in the showroom. While a GT would sell in small numbers, the impact on Ford’s image for styling and engineering could be powerful.
“Ford wants to put some pizazz in its product line,” Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with AutoTrader.com, said in an interview. “It’s a reflection of the mood of the market. The economy is better, people have money, and it’s OK to consumer conspicuously again.”
Ford’s last GT, which it stopped selling in 2006, was priced at $149,995 and sold slightly more than 4,000 models in two years on the market. While it traveled from zero to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, it managed only 12 miles per gallon in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
British TV Show “Top Gear” named the GT the Gas Guzzler of the Year in 2005.
The new GT will be more fuel efficient than its predecessor, said Bill Ford.
“There’s a lot of fuel-saving technology in here, but I’d be lying if I said this was about fuel efficiency,” Ford said. “You don’t buy this car for fuel economy.”
THE PHOENIX RISES, BUT CAN IT RACE?
The new GT is a modern supercar with an efficient design that demonstrates Ford can blend power with fuel economy. It will probably begin entering races later this year as it warms up for its return to Le Mans, said the person.
Ford dominated Le Mans in the late 1960s, winning the race four consecutive years from 1966 to 1969.
Fields, who became Ford’s CEO last July, drove the development of the new GT, intending to make it his first signature project as he pushes the company to lead in innovation, the person said.
Fields told investors in September that 2014 pretax profit would fall to $6 billion, short of a goal of $7 billion to $8 billion, on higher recall costs, widening overseas losses and spending to convert factories to build the aluminum F-150.
Ford’s share of the U.S. market fell to 15 percent in 2014, from 15.9 percent the year before, as sales slid 0.6 percent to 2.47 million models, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
Fields has indicated earnings will improve this year as Ford increases sales of the revamped 2015 F-150, which is more fuel-efficient in part because its aluminum body reduces weight by as much as 700 pounds.