Both told a press audience at Ford's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters that the company continued its long leadership in fleet sales in 2009, with 32 percent of the commercial and 44 percent of government business. Ford F-series, Ranger and Econoline trucks and Fusion, Escape and Taurus automobiles were the sales leaders in their respective commercial segments. And F-series, Crown Victoria and Econoline were the top three sellers in the government fleet sector.
The fleet market last year was down 29 percent compared to 2008, Fields said, as every fleet administrator was told to reduce expenditures and purchases were cancelled or delayed. But there was continued interest in hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles, and recoveries in commercial and government sales have slowly begun. Housing and construction activity is expected to increase later this year and Ford is prepared for the upturns.
The 2011 truck lineup will include a battery electric version of the Transit Connect compact van, more efficient diesel and gasoline engines in F-SuperDuty trucks, and compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas preparation kits for E-series full-size vans. CNG and LPG prep kits will also be available for the Transit Connect. Coincidently, Ford has received large orders for the TC - 1,500 from ADT Home Security and 1,175 from Canada Post - Koswick said.
"Companies and the government are greening their fleets, and Ford is here to help," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Ford is driving America with a full line of vehicles featuring alternative fuel powertrains and advanced sustainable technologies aimed at improving fuel economy, reducing CO(2) emissions and significantly reducing the cost of owning our vehicles for fleet customers nationwide while providing healthy returns to our business."
Product quality and strong resale values are key to the company's fleet-sales leadership, he and Fields said. From the 2009 to the 2010 model year, Ford achieved the industry's largest gain in resale values, an increase of roughly $1,300 per vehicle.
Resale value of Ford's three brands at auction rose 23 percent from a year ago to outpace the industry, which saw resale values increase by 19 percent, according to the latest National Automobile Dealers Association auction data. Additionally, Kelley Blue Book recognized the 2010 Ford Taurus and 2010 Ford Super Duty with its Best Resale Value Awards, singling out the full-size car and full-size pickup as vehicles expected to hold the greatest proportion of their value after five years of ownership.
In communities across America, Ford Super Duty chassis cabs are upfitted as tow trucks, utility repair vehicles and snowplows, the executives said. Ford Econoline ambulances transport patients to the nearest hospitals. Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors patrol neighborhoods. And most taxis are Fords.
New Police Vehicles
Ford will offer a new Police Interceptor sedan when production of the Ford Crown Victoria ends in 2011, maintaining Ford's 15-year leadership in the police fleet market, Koswick said. He didn't identify the car on which it's based, but it appears to be the current Ford Taurus.
The new Ford Police Interceptor will be available with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers at least 263 horsepower and can run on E-85 fuel. The V-6 is 25 percent more efficient than the 4.6-liter V-8 offered in the current Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. The new patrol car also will be offered with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V-6 that will deliver at least 365 horsepower and 350 pounds-feet of torque across a broad rpm range.
Later this year, Ford will reveal an additional Police Interceptor utility vehicle, he said. This pursuit-rated vehicle will offer departments another choice to best meet law enforcement's needs.
The Transit Connect - launched last summer and named 2010 North American Truck of the Year - filled an unmet need in the marketplace by providing small business owners with a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle choice, the executives said. Ford is building on the success of that product by offering a pure electric-powered version of the Transit Connect later this year.
Additionally, a Transit Connect Taxi comes to market later this year with compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG). Ford has been a leader in the taxi business for decades and was the first manufacturer to introduce gas-electric hybrid-powered taxis into North American fleets with the launch of the Ford Escape Hybrid in San Francisco and New York City in early 2005.
The extensively revised 2011 Super Duty, in dealer showrooms now, is available with diesel and gas engines that have flexible fueling options. The 2011 F-150 will be available with EcoBoost engines.
"Advanced gas engines, including EcoBoost, along with cleaner, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced hybrid and electric technologies are an important part of Ford's fleet lineup," Fields said. "Ford is committed to delivering great products, a strong business and a better world."