DEARBORN - Kudos to Ford F-Series. 2011 was quite a year.
F-Series continues to be the best-selling truck in America for the 35th consecutive year with 584,917 in sales. It also continues to be the best-selling vehicle – among cars, trucks, CUVs and SUVs – for the 30th consecutive year. And its leadership margin over the Chevrolet Silverado – its closest competitor – was the largest it’s been since 2005 with a 170,000-unit advantage.
“The reason we have done so well and dominated the full-size pickup segment for so long is that across disciplines – from Marketing and Product Development to Design, Engineering and Finance – we understand the customer better than anybody else in the business,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Marketing manager.
“As a result of that, we’ve been able to not just know what customers’ wants and needs are but really to anticipate those wants and needs and be a step ahead of everybody else in satisfying them,” he said.
Ford Sales Analyst Erich Merkle says F-Series was the only nameplate to break the 500,000 vehicle sales mark in 2011.
“I think one of the main drivers of F-Series success is that there is always something new – whether it’s from a design perspective, a powertrain perspective or engineering changes that enhance the fuel economy or capability of the truck,” he said. “It continues to be revised and refreshed at a very rapid rate.”
Scott says that quickness to market is built into the plan for F-Series.
“I would argue that we’ve had the most aggressive product cadence in the segment and beyond that in the history of Ford,” he said. “When we look at the way we’ve approached the F-Series business and as we plan our product cadence, we do that realizing that we want to continuously improve and bring new features, more capability, better fuel economy, and new models.
Scott points to the all new lineup of 2011 powertrains, new additions such as the F-150 SVT Raptor and Platinum, as well as more feature content such as Ford SYNC, the tailgate step and trailer sway control.
“Our customers look at their trucks as a tool whether they are an occupational user who uses the truck every day for their business or a recreational user who needs the truck to support their lifestyle,” he said. “We build that knowledge of the customer and the desire to make that tool more productive for them into our plan. We are leaders and hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard.
An increasingly competitive truck market has only strengthened that resolve.
“The introduction of the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan in 2007, as well as more aggressive competitive product activity from GM and Dodge,” have only served to reinforce our “Leaders lead” mentality said Scott.
In the first quarter of 2011, Ford made a bold move when it revamped its entire F-150 engine lineup led by the all new 3.5-liter Ti-VCT EcoBoost.
“Historically our F-150 owner has had a ‘no replacement for displacement’ mentality, and less than two years ago we had a 100 percent V8 lineup so we were quite familiar with that mentality,” said Scott. “Anticipating that we knew that the application of EcoBoost to F-150 had to be an ‘and’ story. It needed to deliver more horsepower, torque, capability, “and” great fuel economy.”
Changing public perception began with the EcoBoost Torture Test webisodes (still running on ford.com) wetting the appetite of F-150 customers by proving out the Built Ford Tough durability of the 3.5L EcoBoost engine. The next step was getting customers behind the wheel and the EcoBoost Drive Tour enabled just that with over 12,000 customers having a demo drive opportunity at their home or workplace. As a result, , some of those strongly held perceptions have faded sinceMay , customers have been choosing the F-150 with EcoBoost at a rate of 40 percent or higher.
“A year ago at this time if you would have asked me if we would we be able to reacha-40 percent retail mix with EcoBoost, I would have told you that would have definitely been a stretch objective,” said Scott.
“We’ve gotten people behind the wheel and they’ve experienced the tremendous performance – 365 horsepower, best-in-class 420 lb.-ft. of torque, 11,300 pounds of class-leading towing – that goes with 22 mpg highway,” he said. “That’s what is really selling EcoBoost.”
In fact, in less than a full year on the market more than 109,000 EcoBoost equipped F-150’s have been sold.
The problem – albeit a good one to have – is producing enough vehicles.
“We’ve been building the F-150 with EcoBoost at a 45 percent rate for the last few months in order to catch up with the growing demand.aid Scott.
At the heart of F-Series’ overall success, says Scott, is the fact that many of the Ford employees who work on the team are truckers at heart sharing many of the same values and attitudes as “Joe” and “Cal” our F-150 and Super Duty target customers.
“Since many of the Truck Team members from Design, Engineering, Product Development, Marketing, Manufacturing, Finance, etc.are those target customers, it’s easier for them to understand the customer mindset and what the customer is looking for,” he said. “That contributes to our ability to continuously improve the product really be at the leading edge of the business.”
It’s the truest example of One Ford in action, says Scott.
“The One Ford idea of everybody understanding the customer and being on board with the fact that we always have to strive to be the best in the segment and continue to up our game – whether it’s with fuel economy, capability or technology – that’s really the message,” he said.