The Six Millionth Ford Taurus Sold
A very special Ford Taurus is headed for NASCAR's NAPA 500 race this weekend. It will take on the role of the pace car at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The car is the six millionth Taurus sold, built by employees at Ford Motor Company's Atlanta Assembly Plant (AAP) in Hapeville.
At today's ceremony marking the sales milestone, James Padilla, Group vice president, Ford North America, drove the white pace car off the assembly line. NASCAR Ford Taurus Driver Dale Jarrett, riding in the front passenger's seat, accompanied him. Atlanta Assembly Plant Manager Patricia Reid and UAW Local 882 Building Chairman Mitch Smith also participated in the landmark event.
Taurus replaced Thunderbird as Ford's official NASCAR racing entry in 1998. On March 1, 1998, Taurus took its first Winston Cup victory. As of October 14, 2002, it has since gone on to capture 62 other NASCAR Winston Cup wins. Jarrett has 15 wins, the most of any Ford driver. He captured the 1999 Winston Cup Championship in a Ford Taurus.
"The pace car is the perfect Taurus to represent the six millionth sale because Ford Taurus is such a long-term winner in the vehicle sales race," Padilla said.
Taurus has been one of the top-selling cars in America every year since it was introduced.
Hundreds of AAP employees cheered during the "drive-off ceremony" at the end of the chassis line, knowing that the six millionth Taurus sold will not only go through its paces at a NASCAR event, but will also make a sprint for charity.
The new pace car is being donated to the Georgia Juvenile Diabetes Foundation to raise money to find a cure for the disease. The foundation will sponsor a raffle among Atlanta Ford employees in conjunction with this year's Atlanta Walk to Cure Diabetes, scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2002.
On October 27, when the Taurus does laps at the NAPA 500, it will carry Ford President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele, the Grand Marshall for the race.
Atlanta plant employees were receiving accolades for quality, productivity and efficiency while Taurus was making strides as a sales leader. J.D. Power and Associates awarded the Platinum Award for initial quality to AAP in 1997. The award is given to the vehicle assembly plant with the fewest reported problems of all facilities worldwide serving U.S. consumers. The Harbour Report also recognized AAP as the most efficient domestic auto plant in the nation in 1995 and, again, in 2000. In 2001, AAP ranked second most efficient in the nation and in 2002, it ranked third. Plant Manager Patricia Reid praised AAP workers for their commitment in making the Atlanta workforce one of the best.
"J.D. Power said it. Harbour Reports have said it too," she told employees, as she also thanked six million Ford customers for keeping Taurus among the strongest selling cars in the nation.
SAFETY IS THE TAURUS CORNERSTONE
Today's Taurus is a recognized safety leader – having earned double front five-star crash safety ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) for four straight years. The rating is the highest that NHTSA awards for frontal crash tests. In addition, Taurus is rated a "Best Pick" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its offset frontal crash test. Taurus also was selected by Parents Magazine and the American Automobile Association (AAA) as one of the best vehicles for families -- based on crash tests, braking performance, trunk space, ease of installation of child seats, gas mileage, maintenance plans and roadside assistance.
Taurus comes standard with Ford's Personal Safety SystemÔ with second-generation dual stage front air bags. Side air bags and all-speed traction control also are available.
Craftsmanship accompanies the safety refinements in the 2003-model Taurus as it continues to boost quality, reliability and value. A real wood and leather trimmed steering wheel and dark wood trim on the instrument panel and gear shift knob are available. Meanwhile, power windows, locks and tilt steering are standard as new wind blocking seals and sound damping methods focus on reducing wind noise.
Ford Taurus has been a trendsetter historically. The car turned heads at its introduction when its aerodynamic styling was unveiled to hundreds of journalist from all over the world in January 1985. The introduction took place on MGM Studio's Sound Stage 85, where scenes from Gone with the Wind were filmed. The unveiling was in front of one of the largest crowds ever to attend the introduction of a new car.
Over the years, Taurus led an innovative pace with the introduction of high performance models, standard driver-side air bags, speed sensitive steering and other major engineering improvements. The first Taurus went on sale on December 26, 1985 as a 1986-model.
Ford has produced more than 6.4 million Taurus sedans and wagons at its Atlanta and Chicago Assembly Plants. The Atlanta plant, alone, had produced more than 143,000 units by the end of September during 2002.
Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable also are built at Ford Motor Company's Chicago Assembly Plant.