DEARBORN - America’s best-selling truck is poised for a stellar 2013.
F-Series sales were up 10 percent last year over 2011, and sales for the first quarter of this year were the best since 2007. Combine that with a recovering economy and an increase in housing starts and you’ve got a recipe for tremendous success, says Truck Group Marketing Manager Doug Scott.
“We had a great year last year and we’re off to an even stronger start this year,” he said. “There is a really strong correlation between housing starts and full-size pickup truck sales, and it shouldn’t be a real surprise because many of our customers are involved in residential construction and use their trucks to participate in that trade.”
Another factor contributing to the potential rise in full-size pickup sales is the age of the current truck population.
“The average truck is over 11 years old so clearly you have pent-up replacement demand stimulating volume as well,” said Scott.
And while competition in the full-size pickup truck segment is fierce – with the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram Trucks all vying for a place in the American garage – Scott is confident that F-Series will maintain its strong leadership in the marketplace.
“Our margin over our nearest competitors is expanding,” he said. “We outsold Chevrolet in the first quarter of this year by more than 52,000 units – 4,000 more than a year ago at this time. And we outsold Ram in the first quarter by more than 91,000 units, which is almost 15,000 units more than a year ago.”
Scott says F-Series’ enduring success – the best-selling pickup for 36 consecutive years and America's overall best-selling vehicle for 31 years – is due in very large part to tremendous customer loyalty.
“We have the highest loyalty and that’s a reflection of the great product and great customer experience that we’ve provided over the years,” said Scott, noting that F-Series has been the recipient of the Polk Automotive Loyalty Award in the full-size pickup truck category for 15 out of the last 17 years. “That’s really the foundation. We keep satisfying existing Ford truck owners and they keep coming back for more trucks.”
According to Scott, customer loyalty has and continues to play a large role in the success of EcoBoost-equipped F-150s, which have just surpassed total sales of 300,000 units in just two years on the market.
“There was a lot of skepticism and anticipated resistance to the idea that a V6 could succeed in the full-size pickup arena when we introduced the F-150 with EcoBoost in 2011,” explained Scott. “It would have been a much bigger challenge had we been more of a challenger brand in the segment and didn’t have the years of leadership and trust and the history of innovation, success and reputation for Built Ford Tough that we have.”
At the end of the day, however, the product has to deliver.
“We’ve been saying all along that EcoBoost is the ‘and’ solution because we’re not asking the customer to give anything up,” he said. “We’re giving them performance in terms of 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, best-in-class trailer towing at 11,300 pounds and outstanding fuel economy up to 22 mpg on the highway.”
Prior to the introduction of EcoBoost, 100 percent of F-150s sold were equipped with V8 engines. Last year, 43 percent of F-150s sold were equipped with EcoBoost.
And according to Scott, Ford sold more EcoBoost-equipped F-150s in 2012 than GMC sold Sierra pickups in total.
“Again it’s a testament to our innovating in the segment and the product being well received by customers,” he said.
Scott emphasizes that while GM and Ram may be receiving a lot of press lately due to new products like the 2013 Ram, 2014 Silverado and GMC Sierra, F-Series is definitely not falling behind.
“It’s really important to remember that in large part our competitors are playing catch-up,” he said. “F-150 was all-new for 2009. In the 2011 model we changed out the entire powertrain lineup with four all-new engines and added a new transmission. And then just two years later in 2013 we changed the whole front end design of the truck. We added MyFord Touch, HID headlamps as well as a new Limited model and a number of other features.
In addition to F-150, F-Series Super Duty has also received major updates in recent years. A new Super Duty was introduced in 2011 with Ford’s first in-house designed and built heavy-duty diesel engine since the first HD diesel was offered under the hood of a Ford pickup in 1982. 2011 also saw the introduction of an all-new 6.2-liter V8 gas engine and lineup-standard six-speed transmission with available segment-exclusive Live Drive Power Take Off. In 2013, a new range-topping Platinum model was added to the Super Duty lineup, plus the addition of MyFord Touch.
“The point is that nobody has had a more aggressive product cadence in the full-size pickup arena than Ford,” he said. “We’ve focused on continuously improving F-Series. We’re leaders. That’s what we do.”