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Old 04-27-2004, 07:10   #1 (permalink)
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Ford plans new F-250 pickups for hefty towing

Commercial models produce huge profits

BY JAMIE BUTTERS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Ford plans this year to introduce a redesigned F-250 commercial pickup, the big brother of the F-150 that is used mostly by businesses and others that do a lot of towing.

The automaker had kept its plans under wraps, until a Bloomberg News report last week, following new chief operating officer Jim Padilla's statement in a town hall meeting Thursday.

"We're going to make it look tougher. We're going to put better gas engines in it," he said, while telling employees of new models coming this fall, such as the redesigned Mustang and the all-new Ford Five Hundred sedan. "This will be a stronger product lineup than ever."

Spokesman Jon Harmon said the new truck will have upgrades in power to both the gasoline and the diesel engines, which will give them "easily best in class" towing capability. He added that 90 percent of buyers of the bigger pickups, called SuperDuty trucks, use them for towing.

The trucks are made at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which also makes the Excursion jumbo-size sport-utility vehicle.

Plans to redesign the F-250 through F-550 pickups was kept quiet on orders from Steve Lyons, Ford Division president, Harmon said. Lyons wanted to keep Ford's emphasis on the division's "Year of the Car" theme and "to lay a little surprise on the competition," Harmon said.

The majority of the 360,000 SuperDuty pickups are F-250 models, which have a sticker price from $22,900 to $37,110 but typically sell for $3,000 to $4,000 less, says Edmunds.com,an automotive research Web site.

The pickups, which account for about 40 percent of F-Series sales, are among Ford's most profitable vehicles.

Camouflaged versions of the pickups have been road-tested recently in Louisville.
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