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Ford's Shift from Diesel Vans Opens Ambulance Market

March 27, 2007

LOUISVILLE, KY – Ford Motor Co.’s decision to stop making vans equipped with diesel engines could shift ambulance operators and others to the company’s Louisville-built commercial trucks, but also may give its competitors an opportunity, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. H.G. Clapper, chassis purchasing manager for South Carolina ambulance maker Road Rescue, and others in the industry estimate that Ford has about 90 percent of the ambulance market. But now, Ford has stopped buying diesel engines from Navistar for use in the Ohio-built vans. The E-Series vans were the last vehicles that Ford still equipped with a 6L diesel, and a Navistar spokesman speculated that price was the likely reason that Ford dropped the engine. Last year, the automaker switched to a larger engine for its commercial trucks built at the Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane. Ford purchases of the smaller engines dropped so steeply that it no longer qualified for a discount. A Ford spokesman would say only that the diesel van represented a small part of its sales. Until one of Ford’s competitors comes up with a usable diesel van, Clapper said, his customers have two choices — get larger ambulances that use Louisville-built F-Series chassis or switch to gasoline-fueled vehicles. F-Series-based ambulances are more capable but more expensive than the van-based models, he said. And few buyers want to switch back to gasoline models.
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