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DETROIT - Ford employees and retirees – many accompanied by family and friends – packed Joe Louis Arena Sunday for a special preview of the shows that Ford and Lincoln will present to the press this week at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
It’s the third consecutive year that Ford offered employees and retirees a sneak peek at Ford and Lincoln’s auto show “reveals” in advance of the public.
“Our employees are what make us a great company. They are our company,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “So this is a fun day. It’s a blast, and I love it.”
The Lincoln portion of the program focused on the history of the Lincoln Motor Company, the nature of the current luxury car market and the importance of engaging customers through both exciting new products and a unique, personalized ownership experience.
At the end of executive presentations, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally revealed the new Lincoln MKC Concept – a small luxury utility vehicle – describing it as “a hint at the next exciting chapter of the new Lincoln story.”
It was clear that those attending the preview liked what they saw.
“The Lincoln MKC Concept is very luxurious,” said Miguel Martinez, who works in Ford Supplier Technical Assistance. “My wife really liked it.”
Martinez’s wife Leticia described the MKC Concept as “absolutely beautiful.”
“I would like to have that as a gift for my birthday,” she said with a smile. “I think they’re doing a great job with this new line. I really love it.”
Ford Retiree Vic Leo commented on the styling of the MKC.
“I like the cues for the luxury side of it,” he said. “And I’m glad we’re entering that market in a forceful way. It’s there to be gotten, and I think we can do it.”
Naved Khan, who works in Powertrain Integration, said he believes Lincoln is heading in the right direction.
“This is something that we really had to improve because the luxury segment is actually growing a lot and we were behind a little bit,” he said. “I’m glad to see that the company is paying a lot of attention by putting some good people, good minds and good investment into Lincoln.”
The Ford portion of the program chronicled the tremendous growth that Ford Motor Company has experienced in recent years and introduced the next One Ford global opportunity: commercial vehicles.
Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields discussed the importance of the commercial vehicle market, which represents nearly one-third of global auto industry sales. And Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, introduced the all-new Transit family of commercial vans.
“It’s pretty exciting stuff for commercial vehicles to be the centerpiece of our show,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Marketing manager, who attended the preview. “We’re the commercial truck leaders. We have new products that are going to offer even more variation, more configurations, more capability, better fuel economy and better technology that we think will really cement our leadership in the commercial vehicle space.”
Leo said he was really impressed with the new Transit commercial vans.
“Outstanding,” he said. “I don’t really read a lot of information on commercial trucks but to know that that segment is covered so well in this show is just tremendous.”
Khan said he thinks the new Transit lineup will offer commercial truck customers a lot of versatility.
“The commercial vans are good because now they’re roomier and taller,” he said. “It opens up more area to do some cool, fancy things in it. And I think because it has good styling it will be selling, and different people will be buying it.”
The Ford program also featured a special surprise concept vehicle, which was revealed in a spectacular way. A formal announcement about that vehicle will be made on Tuesday morning during Ford’s NAIAS press show.
At the end of the day, everyone who attended the preview appreciated having the chance to get the scoop on the Ford and Lincoln NAIAS news.
“It’s really exciting to see the new vehicles and all the plans that Ford and Lincoln have,” said Ruben Chavez, who works in Ford Supplier Technical Assistance. “I’m really excited to be part of this great company.”
“It was awesome,” said Derek English, who works in Ford Design. “It’s a great opportunity for employees to bring their friends and family to show off the hard work that we do throughout the year. I think we’ve got some impressive vehicles in the lineup and today really showcases the talent that we have at the company.”
Leo said he’s especially thrilled that retirees are invited to attend.
“We want to stay connected. Just because we’re retired doesn’t mean we’re not purchasers,” he said. “In fact, I’ve sold three X Plans to friends in the last six months. So we’re still very active.”
Dave Parent, who works in Powertrain, says inviting employees to a special NAIAS preview is the “right thing to do.”
“It gets everybody involved and gets everybody excited,” he said. “And there’s a lot to be excited about.”