IRVINE, CA – Ford Motor Company has a plan and is making "steady progress" toward that plan through economic challenges, the automaker reassured nearly 300 fleet industry professionals May 19 at its Southern California regional fleet preview. The event was one of nine the automaker is staging throughout the country to reach current and potential customers, according to Gerry Koss, Ford fleet marketing manager.
At the Irvine preview, held at Ford's West Coast regional office, John Ruppert, Ford's general manager of commercial and government operations, outlined the four pillars of the company's strategy to regain financial health:
- Restructuring to operate profitably, producing vehicles to current demand, and changing the model mix in view of that demand.
- Accelerating development of products that "customers want and prefer."
- Financing the plan and improving the balance sheet through restructuring debt and employee retirement and health care obligations.
- "Working together as One Ford Team," integrating the company's product lines on a global basis.
Some Market Indicators Positive for Ford
Among positive indicators for the automaker's future, Ruppert reported, is Ford's increased retail market share over the past six months. In addition, Ford has improved its share of the commercial, government, and rental markets recently — the only OEM to do so, said Ruppert.
Some industry experts estimate Ford may pick up as much as 25 percent of Chrysler and General Motors sales, prompting preview attendees to voice OTD and customer service concerns. Ruppert attempted to allay those fears, noting the company has developed contingency plans to handle increased sales without impacting service to current customers.
Ford's strategic plan emphasizes four focus areas, Koss explained:
- Quality in products from design through manufacture.
- Green products, offering a range of alt-powered and alt-fueled vehicles, featuring such advances as the EcoBoost engines and clean diesel fuel technology.
- Smart advanced technologies that help fleet managers and drivers function more efficiently.
- Safety features and technologies that help prevent crashes and protect drivers and occupants.
Product Review Highlighted 2010 Fusion & Transit Connect
The preview event showcased 2010-MY Ford vehicles in the fleet segment. Highlighted was the all-new mid-size Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. The Fusion's new 2.5L I-4 engine delivers best-in-class 34/highway mpg. The Fusion Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan available, with 41 city 36/highway mpg EPA ratings, according to Ford.
An example of Ford's global strategy, the Transit Connect light-duty van also received special attention. Available in Europe since 2002 and now offered in 58 countries, the Transit Connect is built on a dedicated commercial platform. According to Ford, the cargo or passenger van offers best-in-class fuel economy with the 2.0L Duratec 1-4 engine, a 39-foot turning radius providing an advantage in tight urban driving, 135 cubic feet of cargo space in the van version, and seating for up to five, with fold-down rear seat, in the wagon version.
The all-new "inside and out" 2010 Taurus large-size sedan is expected to arrive in the marketplace in June and will offer an available EcoBoost V-6 engine.
"By 2012, every car, SUV, and CUV will have four-cylinder availability," Koss also noted.
The F-150, 2009 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, will offer an available "Super Fuel Economy" package to deliver up to 21 mpg. Information regarding the new 2011 Ford Super Duty will be available later this year, promised Koss.
He also reassured public sector fleet representatives the Crown Victoria Interceptor is scheduled for production through 2011.
In addition, Ford "intends to stay in the medium-duty truck segment for the long term," said Koss, describing the extension of an agreement with Navistar to produce the work trucks.
A fleet 2010 Preview Guide is available at www.ford.fleet.com.