DEARBORN - On last week’s Americas Webcast with President of The Americas Mark Fields, Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager Doug Scott recently shared details on the successes that Ford is experiencing in the truck segment. Below is an excerpt from that discussion.
Mark Fields: Let’s talk about the truck business for a bit. Can you give us some details on how the truck business is doing?
Doug Scott: We are on a real roll with the Ford F-Series. So far with May calendar year to date, our volume is up 15 percent year over year. That’s ahead of the segment. Our share, at 48.6, is the best that it’s been since 2001. We’re really doing well and the leadership margin over both Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram is wider than it was a year ago.
Fields: With the industry being up this year, we talk a lot about cars and utilities, and rightfully so. However, there’s a perception out there that the truck business is down. But that’s actually not the case is it?
Scott: No, the segment is still up 10 percent year over year. Again, the segmentation has been lower for full-size pickup, but the industry has been higher. There also has been higher volume for full-size pickups.
Fields: When we speak of trucks, we don’t want to forget about our van business. We have the Econoline as well as the Transit Connect van. Tell us a little about how Transit Connect is doing?
Scott: Transit Connect continues to do great with small business owners. Almost 4,000 sales since May; the best month ever in the history of Transit Connect. Fifty-some percent versus a year ago and up 17 percent calendar year to date. So again, it’s the right answer for our van business. The right combination of just enough size and payload as well as great fuel economy for those customers that used to have to use larger vehicles that weren’t very fuel efficient or smaller vehicles that just didn’t do a great job moving the loads and the goods that they needed to.
Fields: It’s really great to see those fleets getting experience with the Transit Connect and then deciding once they test it out to purchase it in numbers. That’s really encouraging. Now we’ve also made news this month on a new truck. Tell us what’s new for Ford F-150 for 2013?
Scott: June has been the reveal month for the 2013 F-150. We started the first week of the month down in Waco, Texas with the Future Farmers of America (FFA). They had a student leadership conference down there and we thought what a great location. We’ve been aligned with FFA for 65 years –coincidently the same length of time we’ve been in the F-Series business. We had the good fortune of having Alan Mulally join us down there for the reveal of the XLT. We followed a week later with the introduction of our Special Service Vehicles with both a police and fire application for F-150.Then this last weekend, you helped us out with the introduction ofthe FX4 version of the truck as the pace vehicle in the NASCAR race at the Michigan International Speedway. And then there’s more to come later this month.
Fields: It’s important that you mention all these intros that we’re having because our competitors are also entering the market with introductions.GM is coming out with their new truck this year and Dodge is reading their new Dodge Ram truck later this year. Every year we have product news around F-Series. Tell us a bit about why we do that.
Scott: We have the most aggressive product cadence.In fact it’s really a message that’s resonating with the media really well because the current body style we introduced was the 2009 model. We followed up two years later with an entirely new powertrain train lineup. We’ve got four brand new engines for 2011 and here we are in 2013 with new grilles, MyFord Touch and a lot of other content. So unlike our competition that got four, five or six-year gaps, we’re keeping the product fresh. We’re keeping interest in the product and that certainly is contributing to our sales and shareperformance.
Fields: Now we can’t talk about trucks without discussing Super Duty. Tell us how Super Duty is doing?
Scott: Super Duty continues to be the dominate player in the heavy-duty pickup segment. We would like that overall segment to be stronger. A lot of that depends on housing and housing continues to lag.But Super Duty is very good. Probably the best news for Super Duty is the Power Stroke Diesel. We put a lot of effort behind bringing the 6.7-liter Power Stroke in house and that’s paid off tremendously well. Our satisfaction with fuel economy and performance is best in class. All of the quality measures are so much better than the outgoing 6.4-liter.
Fields: You mentioned the housing market. Can share why the housing market is so important to the truck market?Additionally, what is the story on the demographics of our trucks and what does this mean for truck sales going forward?
Scott: Well there’s almost a one-to-one correlation between residential construction and the full-size pickup segment. We’ve seen that over a long span of time. We know this because a lot of our customers are using the truck for occupational purposes. That’s a real key aspect to our success and the overall size of the segment. But then more importantly because of the recession, and the average age of the trucks out there is over ten years. We know that as well as were doing today, there’s this pent up demand out there.Once housing starts to come back and those people involved in the housing industry can see the prospect of continuous, they’ll be back in the market to replace those trucks.
Fields: On the positive side, I think housing starts and permits were up in the first quarter by 20-to-30 percent year over year. So between that and the demographics, I think that really bodes well for our truck sales category.