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Ford woos Super Duty owners
Loyalty bonus is offered to customers of troubled diesels

Amy Wilson
Automotive News
Photo by Global Auto Index

Faulty Power Stroke diesels tested the loyalty of 2003 and 2004 F-Series Super Duty pickup owners. Now Ford is giving them $2,500 bonuses to stick with the truck, and dealers are happy to get the help.

DETROIT -- In a bid to hang on to alienated diesel pickup customers, Ford Motor Co. is offering them a $2,500 incentive toward the purchase of a new truck.

The owner loyalty bonus is available to owners of 2003 and 2004 model F-series Super Duty pickups equipped with Ford's 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. Those are the models most plagued by quality problems since the 6.0-liter Power Stroke debuted in fall 2002.

The incentive, when added to existing offers, will give those owners as much as $5,000 off a new Super Duty, diesel or gasoline. The loyalty bonus runs through May. The total is as high as $6,000 in some areas of the country, such as Texas, where a regional $1,000 bonus also applies.

Dealers are happy to get the extra help. About 250,000 customers are eligible for the owner loyalty bonus.

"A lot of those owners have had one or more problems," said Jerry Reynolds, dealer principal at Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas. "Sometimes we didn't know exactly how to fix it."

Potential loss

At times, Reynolds has felt close to losing some Super Duty diesel customers to other brands, he said. And those are high-profit, high-volume sales for both Ford and the dealers.

Randy Fuller of Fullers' White Mountain Motors in Show Low, Ariz., said he has lost some Power Stroke customers but not as many as he expected: "Here, they've been frustrated but extremely loyal."

The average diesel-equipped Super Duty sells for more than $40,000, according to J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network. The engine itself is a $5,300 option. Ford sold approximately 250,000 of them in 2005.

Ford is pressing dealers on the urgency of retaining these customers.

"There are thousands of these owners out there, and we are giving them a program they cannot refuse," said a Ford e-mail sent to dealers. "We need a big push on this. Every postcard, e-mail and phone call is a potential sale."

Diesel fixes

Ford expects that many owners, who often use the trucks for heavy-duty commercial work and put on high miles, are ready for replacements. The company has said it has fixed the primary problems plaguing the 6.0-liter diesel.

Those problems included leaky fuel injectors, oil leaks, broken turbochargers, and more. The powertrain was built by longtime Ford diesel supplier International Truck and Engine Corp., of Melrose Park, Ill.

Between the engine's launch and December 2005, Ford issued at least 77 technical service bulletins on the problems. Ford also bought back some trouble-prone pickups.

Ford considers the incentive a way to hang on to customers.

Said Ford spokesman Dan Bedore: "They're a loyal bunch, and we're going to make sure we do right by them."
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