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Ford Gets Tougher In Trucks

"Texas is truck country, and Ford is the truck manufacturer of choice," insists Darryl Hazel, Ford Div. president, speaking at Grande Ford Truck Sales in San Antonio, as the company launched another in its fleet of commercial trucks, the 2006 Ford LCF.

"Texas is truck country, and Ford is the truck manufacturer of choice," insists Darryl Hazel, Ford Div. president, speaking at Grande Ford Truck Sales in San Antonio, as the company launched another in its fleet of commercial trucks, the 2006 Ford LCF. Grande Ford is the company's number-one seller of commercial trucks in the U.S. In the commercial truck category in Class 1-7, Ford has more than 40% of the market, which is greater than that of any other vehicle manufacturer—twice as much as its nearest competitor, according to Joe Castelli, director, Ford Commercial Truck Sales & Marketing. There are 19 manufacturers who have offerings in the Class 1-7 trucks. Ford's lineup of commercial trucks includes the F-250 and F-350 pickups; the F-250 to F-750 chassis cabs; the E-Series variants; and the LCF tilt cab. "You earn your spurs in trucks," Hazel continued, adding, "We intend to stay dominant in the truck business." All of the truck business: personal as well as commercial. Last year, the company sold a record 939,511 F-Series trucks; according to Hazel, for calendar year ‘05 the goal is to sell in excess of 900,000 units. "If we achieve it," he says, "we will be the only automaker in modern history to sell 900,000 of anything in two consecutive years."

Part of the initiative to maintain position in the world of commercial trucks is the LCF tilt cab, which is Ford's foray into this vehicle architecture. The LCF is a global endeavor, in that the cab, according to Ford's Frank Davis, vehicle program director for Trucks and Commercial Vehicles, was engineered by Mazda, the TorqShift five-speed automatic transmission is from Ford, there is an International Power Stroke 4.5-liter six-cylinder V6 diesel under the hood, and the vehicle is manufactured at the Blue Diamond plant in Escobedo, Mexico (with Blue Diamond being a joint venture between Ford and International Truck and Engine Corp.). The frame for the LCF is based on the Ford Super Duty chassis, and is claimed to be the strongest in its class. The vehicle can be upfitted into various types of vehicles, including dump, stake, and tow truck configurations.

According to Davis, Japanese manufacturers Isuzu and Mitsubishi presently dominate the market, which has annual sales of about 24,000 per year. Davis says that the market size is expected to grow to 40,000 units per year by 2010. So, given that Ford market research shows that 42% of owners of tilt cab vehicles own another Ford truck and that the 76% of tilt cab customers buy another tilt cab, Hazel and his colleagues are confident that the LCF will help solidify its truck dominance.—GSV