U.S.A.:Ford, GM hold line on '04 prices, increases likely to come
By JOHN K. TEAHEN JR. | Automotive News
Early 2004 price action by General Motors and Ford Motor Co. indicates that new-car prices will be little changed for the new model year.
On the pickup side, buyers of Ford F-150 models can pay the same as last year or they can pay considerably more. It depends on how new they want their new truck to be and how much equipment they demand.
An Automotive News analysis finds that the increase at GM will average $108 on Chevrolet cars and all Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models.
That is less than 0.5 percent and is much less than GM's usual boost at introduction time.
There will be more increases. In the 2003 model year, GM had six price increases on cars and light trucks. They totaled $911, or 3.2 percent, according to Automotive News.
By makes, the increases were: Buick, $175; Oldsmobile, $114; and Chevrolet cars, $81. Pontiac registered an average price reduction of $9, largely because of a $2,050 cut on a Montana minivan.
Ford Motor took the spotlight away from GM by posting an average increase of only $21 on Ford cars and all Lincolns and Mercurys.
By makes, the Automotive News tabulation showed an average cut of $35 on Ford cars and increases of $151 on all Lincolns and $166 on all Mercurys.
The 2004 figures seem slanted toward Ford Division, but it must be noted that Ford Division accounts for 71 percent of the Ford Motor sales in this study.
For the 2003 model year, Ford's price boosts totaled $706, or 2.8 percent.
All prices in this article are sales-weighted and include freight. They do not include additions or deletions of equipment unless specifically noted.
Ford's pickups are a mixed bag. There are two sets of them:
The F-150 Heritage, which is a 2003 model with a 2004 label. Prices and equipment are unchanged from 2003.
The real 2004 F-150, which is a new rendition of the nation's best-selling vehicle.
Ford says the new F-150s are $245 to $635 more than the 2003s. The 2004 introductory price increase was softened by a $150 boost that Ford applied to the F-150 in early May.
That's one of the oldest price ploys in the books: Raise the price late in the model year to reduce the amount of the increase on the new models.
The $245 to $635 increase is true if the buyer wants the extra equipment the company has added, principally a V-8 engine ($750 for 2003) and automatic transmission ($1,095). The base F-150 for 2004 is $22,010, up $2,090 from $19,920 for 2003.
If the buyer wants a V-6 and a stick shift, he can select an F-150 Heritage for the same $19,920 as in 2003.
The Heritage situation will continue until at least summer 2004, when Ford will get extra pickup capacity and begin making the new F-150s with a V-6 and a stick shift. They'll be called 2005 models.
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My next Ford.....