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Old 03-23-2004, 07:28   #1 (permalink)
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U.S.A.:SVT product revamp looms for Ford's Special Vehicle Team

By AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

John Coletti, director of Ford Motor Co.'s Special Vehicle Team, will launch the fastest Ford-badged vehicle ever this year, the 550-hp Ford GT sports car. Meanwhile, Ford is phasing out production of the SVT Mustang Cobra and Focus. The Mustang will return on the new model, probably in 2006. And there's a new version of the F-150 Lightning in the works. Coletti updated Automotive News Staff Reporter Richard Truett on SVT during the SAE World Congress in Detroit this month.

When will the SVT lineup be filled up again?

It will be soon, but I don't want to give timing. We still have '04 product. It does take a while for the new model platform to go into production and stabilize. That's when we come in and say, 'OK, now with a stable product, what can we do with it?'

How many vehicles will make up the SVT lineup?

If I throw in the GT, we are at four. Four to five would be a good number. We have enough segments out there we can service.

Will you be out of the sport-compact segment when the Focus SVT ends production?

Near-term, yes.

How can SVT cater to sport-compact fans without selling a complete, factory-made tuner car?

We are restructuring how we want to go into that. The sport-compact segment is more of a performance parts business. Rather than spending $20,000 to $25,000 on a new car, those kids - I'm talking those under 25 - their preference is to get a secondhand car for about $10,000, and load it down with their own componentry.

So then the SVT brand will mean factory-engineered performance parts only for the smaller Fords?

This is a market we are going to support. The exact way we are going to do it now is we've got to put good base products out there. For example, the new 2.3-liter PZEV Focus is an outstanding piece. It's a good building block.

Do you think that if horsepower keeps going up, the industry will attract the attention of government regulators and the insurance industry?

You'd have to be irresponsible to think that's not going to happen. I don't think we want to be irresponsible. As a matter of fact, from a Ford perspective, we want to be completely socially responsible with emissions. I always tell our guys we have to be the best on emissions. We've got to meet all the safety standards.

Any chance we'll see a performance version of the V-6 Mustang?

There are people who want to do that. The only problem is that when you have a V-8 in the Mustang GT and the Cobra sitting there, it's so much easier to go faster. What you find is that people who spend money and time on a V-6 are doing it because they want to be unique. If you are talking about purely going fast, the enthusiast is going to grab the V-8. He's not going to go with a V-6.
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