Ford Anounces Two New Minivans
Ford Motor Co. has outlined plans for two new minivans that it hopes will help maintain a grip on a key market segment - the family. On Monday, Ford announced the replacement for the current Windstar minivan and introduced the new Mercury Monterey luxury minivan for the 2004 model year.
Both the newly redesigned Windstar and the Monterey will be available in the fall of the 2003, James Padilla, Ford group vice president for North America, said Monday.
"We think the story on this minivan is on the inside. This is a family product and they live in the interior of their vehicles," added Padilla.
"The minivan market has maintained itself at pretty robust levels," added Padilla, as he outlined Ford's plans for the renovation of Ford's minivan assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario. The Oakville renovation was the key to Ford's settlement with the Canadian Auto Workers last week. CAW members ratified the new contract Sunday.
Ford's share of the minivan market has dropped from 30 percent in 1995 to about 15 percent now as the competition has intensified, Padilla said. The new vans will enable Ford to maintain their market share and even win new customers, he said.
The Windstar, the only minivan with the U.S. government's highest frontal crash test rating for seven straight years, is being redesigned for the 2004 model year - taking safety to an even higher level and creating an all-new interior highlighted by a fold-into-the-floor third-row seat, said Chris Theodore, vice president of North America product development.
Ford will add side curtain air bags for all three full rows, making it the only minivan in the market to offer this level of safety technology, Theodore said.
The 2004 Mercury Monterey minivan will come with an unprecedented level of interior luxury, expressive design and functionality generally reserved for a luxury sedan, Padilla said.
"Mercury has an important role in the revitalization of Ford Motor Company, and the new Monterey is just the beginning of a multiyear strategy to update and expand our product offerings," said Elena Ford, Mercury group marketing manager. "We'll follow the Monterey with at least one new Mercury car or SUV every year for the next several years."
In regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Ford shares fell 16 cents to close Monday at $8.50.