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SVT’s Renewed Focus
Ford performance arm could be called ‘Segment Vehicle Team’

By BOB GRITZINGER
AutoWeek

Ford’s Special Vehicle Team, rumored to be on the ropes as recently as 90 days ago, is showing some signs of life.

During a recent Ford product preview SVT chief Hau Thai-Tang assured us the Ford performance arm is alive and well, employs 60 engineers dedicated to developing SVT products, and is planning for the future.

For now SVT will soldier on with two SVT-badged products—one car, the 2007 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 now on sale, and one truck. Thai-Tang is not revealing much about the truck, other than it will be based on the F-150 like its predecessor, the SVT Lightning. No timeline was revealed for production of the SVT truck, but it is not likely for the 2007 model year.

Thai-Tang says SVT is expanding, with future product falling into three segments:

Race-inspired performance, including vehicles like the Ford GT that appeal to automotive zealots (hint: If you read AutoWeek, you’re probably in this group).

SVT, the performance division as we know it, making traditional high-performance SVT-branded products such as the GT500 and the next Lightning.

Enhanced performance, offering appearance packages, some customization, minor engine and suspension modifications, and special wheels and tires. Vehicles in this group might not be badged as SVT products, but would be tuned by SVT and use a combination of Ford Racing parts and dealer accessories. Some past examples of this type of vehicle include the Bullitt and Mach 1 Mustangs built using the previous-generation Mustang.

The latter group is the one getting the most attention, because it represents the fastest-growing part of the market and a profitable area not previously tapped by SVT, Thai-Tang says.

SVT also will lend its expertise to other Ford divisions down the road, “but our focus is on Ford right now,” says Thai-Tang. Was Thai-Tang’s use of the word “focus” a hint of future product? Nah.
 
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