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North America:Big 3 gear up for turf war over pickups

Big 3 gear up for turf war over pickups
Redesigned Ford F-150 inspires battle over share

By Dave Guilford and Amy Wilson
Automotive News / June 30, 2003

DETROIT - The heavyweight truck battle of 2003 is set for late summer.

Ford Motor Co. is readying a $100-million-plus marketing campaign for the redesigned F-150 pickup. Rivals General Motors and the Chrysler group are bulking up inventory of competing models. And GM is hinting that it is ready to attack with its favorite weapon - heavy incentives.

The message is clear: As Ford Motor prepares its most important redesign in years, no one is willing to cede sales.

The 2004 F-150 should start shipping to dealers in late July and be available for sale by mid-August, says Ford Division President Steve Lyons. Advertising will debut in late August and September as availability increases.

Spotlight on the segment

Brent Dewar, marketing general manager for Chevrolet, says the F-150 launch will boost the entire segment.

"It's going to draw a lot of attention to full-sized trucks," Dewar says. "We're going to bring up our advertising in that part of the market."

Dewar would not quantify the advertising increase. He says GM has another reason for boosting marketing and inventory: Silverado sales have been up in recent months, which Dewar sees as an indicator that the economy is stirring for a rebound.

Pickups are a leading economic indicator because many businesses buy them, he says.

Chrysler group spokesman David Elshoff says Chrysler plans a strong marketing effort, including sponsorships and option packages tailored to key truck regions such as Texas.

"We're all fierce competitors selling pickup trucks," he says. "It's big business for the Big 3, and we're not going to give up our market share."

Pricing will be a factor

GM is hinting that it will seek to establish a strong price advantage against the F-150. Gary White, GM's vehicle line executive for full-sized trucks, says that as Ford has added content to the F-150, it has added price. Ford may have a hard time getting its desired price, he says.

The 2003 F-150 and Silverado both carry $3,000 rebates now. Both pickups' stickers start at about $19,700.

Ford hasn't revealed the truck's pricing, but executives have acknowledged that the redesigned

F-150 costs $1,000 to $2,000 more to build than the existing pickup.

Though some incentives are likely on the redesigned truck, Ford will produce the current F-150 for another year under the Heritage name and steer the large incentives to that model.

"We'll have to go toe-to-toe with the Heritage truck," Lyons says. "And we will not give an inch, you can rest assured. But I think this is the $64,000 question: When the volume gets to the big numbers on this truck, how does the market receive it and perceive it?"

Rivals stock up
Inventories of the Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram are up.
June 1, 2003 June 1, 2002
Silverado 187,000 137,000
Ram 111,800 95,400
Source: Automotive News Data Center

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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.....
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