DEARBORN, MI – Ford held its 2013MY Fleet Product and Business Conference in May at the Motor City Casino Hotel in Detroit and at the company’s Dearborn Development Center. Ford said nearly 1,000 people attended this year’s preview, which featured a mix of business meetings and driving events.

The key current fleet products shown at this year’s event included the all-new 2013-MY Escape and Fusion; the 2013-MY Police Interceptor Sedan and Utility, C-MAX Energi; and F-150.

You can view a gallery of photos from the event here.

The Business Meeting occurred on the first day of the event at the Motor City Casino Hotel and was followed by a welcome reception for attendees. The ride and drive event occurred on day two, and gave fleet professionals a chance to experience the full range of Ford products; including Fiesta, Focus, Mustang, Taurus, Flex, Escape, Edge, Explorer, Expedition, Transit Connect, F-150, E-Series, and Super Duty. Other activities at the track included an Explorer and F-150 off-road course, alternative vehicle drive, hot laps in Mustang GT’s and Police Interceptor Sedans, and an exciting event which showcased the drifting skills of Vaughn Gittin Jr., who hit the track in his 550 hp. Mustang RTR-C.

Automotive Fleet magazine spoke with two fleet managers who attended this year’s event, Sue Miller, Manager, Fleet Program Services, for McDonald's Corporation and Phil Schreiber, Fleet Manager, North America, for Otis Elevator, about their impressions of the event and the vehicles they had a chance to evaluate.

“While all the vehicles were interesting, the ones that stood out were the Focus Electric and new Escape,” Miller said. “Both represent Ford’s forward thinking strategy toward consumer desires and energy demands. The product is exciting to look at and to drive. The electric power train is surprisingly responsive. The Escape is a grand slam!”

Schreiber said he was there to check out the truck and van offerings from Ford this year.

“When visiting the Ford preview I look at vehicles from a professional as well as personal aspect,” said Schreiber. “In the Otis fleet, I use many of the Ford products, the entire van line and all models of light to medium trucks. The preview is an opportunity to see the new vehicles, gauge the progress that was made from the previous model year, or evaluate a new product.”

Miller said she was impressed with one of the smaller cars Ford offers as well as the overall lineup.

“From a commercial business perspective, I really liked the street drive event,” she said. “Going later in the day allowed me to get in and out of most every vehicle there, one right after the other. What impressed me was that the Fiesta had nearly the same level of cabin noise as the Lincoln’s – which was very quiet,” Miller said. “Each vehicle was really comfortable and responsive in a very positive manner. There’s a vehicle available to fit personality, pocket book, and image. And every vehicle from Fiesta to Lincoln, can be, or already is, very well appointed.”

The event wasn’t all business. At this year’s Product Preview, attendees got the chance to indulge their inner athlete during stadium tours at Ford Field and participate in punt, pass, and kick events on the field.  

Although the 2013MY Fleet Product & Business Conference is about new products, there wouldn’t be new products without significant investment in manufacturing, and Ford reiterated its commitment during the event. Ford’s investment includes $16 billion in the U.S., of which $6.2 billion is going to plants and facilities. Ford added that by 2015 it will have added a total of 12,000 manufacturing jobs, and that it added 6,500 out of that total in 2012.

By Greg Basich