Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
High-performance SVT unit will get bigger role at Ford
By MARY CONNELLY
In the 2003 model year, Ford Division will increase production of high-performance SVT vehicles, sell them at more dealerships and use the models in national advertising.
"We are giving more prominence to the SVT name," said Steve Lyons, Ford Division president. "SVT (Special Vehicle Team) has been around for 10 years, and we think the time is right."
High performance is an industry hot button. In July, General Motors said it will build at least one high-performance model for each division. In December 2001, the Chrysler group created a Performance Vehicle Operations unit to develop more high-performance models.
"Each of the domestic automakers is looking for the cachet you get from the performance side of the market," said Doug Scott, industry analyst with Allison-Fisher in Southfield, Mich. "The imports tend to get rated more highly on handling and performance across a broad set of vehicles. The domestics are looking to add flavor across a set of their cars that are not thought of as being as much fun to drive."
Ford Division now sells SVT versions of the Focus, Mustang and F-150.
Nick Scheele, Ford Motor COO, has championed a broader role for SVT. Here are highlights of the company's plan:
By next year, Ford will expand its SVT dealer network in the United States to an estimated 1,200 dealerships, up from 600 today, Lyons said. Ford Division had 3,911 U.S. dealerships as of Jan. 1, according to the Automotive News Market Data Book. Not all dealerships are expected to undertake the training and certification required to sell SVT models.
In the 2003 model year, Ford will increase Ford SVT Focus production to at least 12,000 units and possibly as many as 18,000. Ford built 5,500 in the 2002 model year in a shorter-than-normal production run that did not begin until March 2002.
New dealers who qualify to sell SVT models will sell only the SVT Focus in the 2003 and 2004 model years. All dealers will be offered the full SVT lineup, including the Mustang SVT Cobra and the SVT F-150 Lightning, in the 2005 model year.
SVT will consider adding one and possibly two unspecified products to its lineup.
In the 2003 model year, the Ford SVT Focus will be used in national Ford brand ad campaigns, a first for an SVT model.
"SVT will be a more significant piece of Ford (Division's) marketing strategy going forward," said Tom Scarpello, Ford SVT marketing and sales manager. "We are setting up the SVT business for increased growth."
Ford research indicates that 75 percent of those who buy an SVT model would not have considered a Ford vehicle otherwise, said Mark Schirmer, Ford spokesman.
In the 2003 model year, a five-door SVT Focus will join the three-door model in the lineup.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....