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Old 01-13-2005, 08:26   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford to ease up on new product in fleets

Ford to ease up on new product in fleets

By Amy Wilson
Automotive News

Ford Division will start selling the 2005 Five Hundred sedan and Freestyle sport wagon to daily rental fleets this spring, six months after launch.

The Five Hundred and Freestyle will be sold in limited numbers to major rental companies such as Hertz, Budget and Enterprise beginning in March or April, said Kevin Koswick, Ford Division general sales manager.

The daily rental sales are according to plan and won't top 10 percent of total sales for the nameplates, officials said.

"The key word here is 'balance,' " said Mar-ty Collins, Ford Division general marketing manager.

"We've been through years where our dealer lots were littered with used rent-a-cars as we were trying to sell new cars. And our days of doing that are behind us."

Ford said it will adopt the same approach with the 2006 Fusion sedan, which goes on sale this fall. There will be no daily rental sales of the Fusion until at least six months after the launch. Initial daily rental sales will be limited to 7 percent, Ford Division President Steve Lyons said.

But the Taurus will become "virtually all fleet" once the Fusion arrives, Lyons said. He expects the Taurus to move from about 65 percent fleet to nearly 100 percent fleet. It still will be available for retail sales, though Lyons expects few.

The division vows to remain disciplined on daily rental volumes for its new products.

Said Lyons: "We're not going to backslide on our rental car commitments. We're going to continue to bring those down and into line, and it's paying off big time in our residual values."
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