Ford Squeezes More from Its Models
Besides the North American debut of the Transit Connect, Ford will use the Chicago Auto Show to release new options on existing vehicles. First, Ford will add new productivity features to the F-series Trucks and E-series Vans. Second, Ford will add an appearance package to the 2009 Ford Edge.
High-tech and low-tech solutions for F-series and E-series
The new 2009 F-150 along with its Super Duty, and Econoline siblings, is getting several innovative features to set it apart from the competition. On the high-tech side, Ford will offer a first; a factory-installed full-featured in-dash computer. An in-dash computer is nothing new, but until now it was solely an aftermarket option. From Ford, this computer will take the same space usually occupied by the navigation screen, but adds a stylus, wireless keyboard and mouse, and an SD slot. The computer connects to Internet using Sprint’s broadband Internet, and also provides directions using Garmin’s navigation solutions.
Another new feature uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology embedded in DeWalt tools to allow the owner to quickly inventory the tools in the truck’s bed and alerts the driver of any tools not present.
Yet another new feature allows crew managers to quickly track the location, diagnostics, fuel use, and other information about their fleet of F-150 trucks through a web-based application.
In this set of truly cutting-edge modern technologies, the last one is surprisingly low-tech and ingenious – to prevent theft of tools and equipment from the bed, Ford paired up with Master Lock® and developed a good old-fashioned cable lock for your truck.
Bolder look for the Edge
Ford will work to preserve the momentum of the hot-selling Edge by introducing a new Sport model. Some enthusiasts hoped for a more powerful engine, but Ford is taking the same safe approach it took with the Sport Trac Adrenalin and focusing on exterior and interior appearance. The Edge Sport will feature 22-inch wheels, eight-piece factory body kit, smoked headlights and tail lamps and unique interior details such as seats in suede-like material.
Working with what you’ve got
In this tough market, Ford would no doubt love to have more all-new models to introduce, but it is refreshing to see some innovative and creative thinking coming from the auto industry. While the Edge package is far from the innovative improvements given to the trucks and vans, it is still a proven method of keeping sales momentum going in the last year of a model before its redesign.
The features added to F-series and Econoline, on the other hand, are quite something else. A full-featured “carputer,” RFID tool inventorying, and a sophisticated fleet management system all exist out there, but until now they were accessible only through the after-market at considerable cost (and some hassle factor) and solidly out of the reach or purview of most small businesses. Like with the Super Duty lineup last year, Ford is looking for ways it can provide unique features in their market segment straight from the factory, making them accessible to wider audiences. Moreover, by providing these options directly from the factory, Ford is elevating the whole truck and van line one notch above the competition in the consumers’ eyes.
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