Ford Motor Co., a leading motorhome chassis manufacturer, has boosted production of its Class A motorhome chassis and introduced new options in response to growing consumer confidence and demand for recreational vehicles.
According to a press release, total motorhome sales are up 13% year-to-date through May, according to data from Statistical Surveys Inc., a market analysis company specializing in the RV, marine and manufactured housing industries. Sales of Class A motorhomes – the largest and most luxurious on the road – are up 12% through May.
Sales of smaller van cutaway-based Class C motorhomes are up 14% for the same period.
“Motorhome sales are cyclical, and correlate with improving economic performance,” said Erich Merkle, Ford sales analyst. “Like boats, homes and luxury cars, motorhomes – especially Class A – are big-ticket items, so when we see a continued upward trend in sales, it means people have far greater confidence to make a large, discretionary purchase.”
Ford leads both the Class A and Class C motorhome chassis markets, with a 63% share of the Class A market and 72% share in Class C chassis year-to-date through May, according to data from Statistical Surveys.
Ford motorhome chassis sales are outpacing the market. Total Ford motorhome chassis sales are up 16.5% year-to-date through May, compared to the 13% growth in total motorhome sales. Ford Class A motorhome stripped chassis sales are up 17% versus the total Class A market’s 12%, while Ford’s Class C van cutaway chassis sales, at 16% growth, are outpacing total Class C chassis sales gains by 2 percentage points.
Ford increased production of its F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis used for Class A motorhomes and commercial vehicle applications, such as parcel delivery, by 33% through the first half of 2014 to meet growing demand.
“We believe we will see further growth as the industry continues to recover,” said Merkle. “Demographic drivers of this overall growth in the RV market include retiring Baby Boomers with more time for travel and leisure.”
The introduction of the Ford Transit also gives customers additional choices for their Class B motorhome.
Commonly called “camper vans,” Class B motorhomes are built using OEM vans or panel trucks. They drive like a van, and retail for between $60,000 and $130,000, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Transit’s choice of three roof heights, two wheelbases and three powertrains gives customers the ability to customize their camper van cost-effectively, as choosing the high-roof Transit model eliminates the need to raise the roof or drop the floor of a traditional van.
“Transit versatility makes it a great fit for the motorhome market,” said Minyang Jiang, Ford brand manager for Transit, Transit Connect and E-Series. “While our E-Series cutaway will continue to address the heavier needs of the Class C motorhome market, Transit cutaway provides a lighter-weight option. And for camper vans, you can’t beat the high-roof Transit’s best-in-class interior height – passengers more than 6 feet 4 inches tall can stand upright inside.”
Nearly 1.4 million F-series trucks, Escapes and Fusions helped make Ford Motor Co. the industry’s biggest market share gainer in 2013 as the company turned in one of the most profitable years in its history.
Automotive News reported that Ford added almost half a point of U.S. market share, more than double the gains by any of its major rivals. Its sales rose 11%, and the Ford division was the only brand to sell more than 2 million units during the year.
F-series sales of 763,402 — which Ford pointed out was more than enough to line up end-to-end from Los Angeles to New York — were the highest since 2006, the highest of any nameplate in 2013, and 59% more than the second-place Chevrolet Silverado.
“Dealers are looking at record profits, which are good, and so is the manufacturer,” said Jeff Carlson, who owns two Ford dealerships in Colorado. “It’s like the old ‘A-Team': ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’ We all are pretty happy this year.”
Overall, industry sales increased 8% in 2013 to 15.6 million vehicles. But the strongest year since 2007 ended on a relatively weak note, with December sales rising just 0.2% from a year ago.
The seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate fell to 15.4 million, from 16.4 million in November. Many analysts had forecast a rate of at least 16 million for December.
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Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 pickup truck line is reportedly getting a significant makeover for the 2015 model year, though the OEM is officially remaining mum on the specifics as it plans to make a big splash at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI, Jan. 18-26.
According to Fleet Owner, reports that the F-150 will feature an all-aluminum body to help lighten the vehicle and thus boost fuel economy, along with the addition of a smaller 2.7-liter version of Ford’s popular V6 EcoBoost gasoline engine, are being neither confirmed nor denied by the OEM at this time.
“The stories that are out there are speculation at this point; it’s premature to discuss future products,” Mike Levine, a Ford spokesman, told Fleet Owner. “But we’ll have exciting news in Detroit.”
The F-150 is only part of the “news” Ford plans to discuss in January as the OEM already has announced plans to launch 23 new vehicles in 2014, along with opening three more manufacturing facilities and add more than 5,000 new jobs in the U.S. alone.
“Next year, we are embarking on our most ambitious global launch year ever to meet customer demand for our products around the world,” noted Raj Nair, group vice president for Ford’s global product development team earlier this month. “We are investing even more through our One Ford plan to serve more customers, in more segments – and deliver profitable growth.”
Ford said it is on pace to produce 6 million vehicles in 2013, with the Ford Focus compact car on track to hit 1.1 million in sales, the Ford Escape compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) on track to exceed sales of 271,000 units, and the Ford F-Series expected to pass the sales mark of 730,000 units in 2013.
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A confident Ford Motor Co. said today that it plans to add 5,000 U.S. jobs in 2014, open two plants in Asia Pacific and one in South America, and launch 23 vehicles globally.
“Next year, we are embarking on our most ambitious global launch year ever to meet customer demand for our products around the world,” Raj Nair, group vice president for Ford global product development, said in a statement.
Automotive News reported that Ford plans 16 launches in North America. They include the Ford Mustang, Ford Transit Connect, Ford Transit and Lincoln MKC.
“We saw unprecedented growth in the United States this year, especially in the midsize and utility segments,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said in the statement. “With the addition of 16 new products to our showroom, including Ford Mustang, our momentum continues.”
Hinrichs said Ford has learned from the problems it had with launches this year. It has taken steps including adding launch engineers at Ford factories to help suppliers gear up.
“We’re focusing a lot of energy getting ready for these launches,” he said.
Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over claims that it sold defective diesel engines in its 2003-07 Super Duty pickups and E-series vans.
Automotive News reported that the now discontinued diesel 6-liter V-8, manufactured by Ford’s former diesel engine supplier, Navistar International, had myriad problems with the fuel system, turbochargers and other major components.
According to the settlement, any U.S. purchaser and lessee of any 2003-07 Ford vehicle equipped with a 6-liter Power Stroke diesel engine is covered if the vehicle’s exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler and EGR valve, oil cooler, fuel injectors, or turbocharger was repaired, replaced or adjusted prior to 135,000 miles or six years.
Each component is given a reimbursement limit. In addition, according to the settlement, if a class member paid a $100 deductible more than once for repairs under the five-year/100,000-mile engine warranty, Ford will reimburse $50 each for the second through fifth deductible paid, up to a limit of $200 for four deductible payments.
The settlement resolves dozens of class-action lawsuits against the company and entitles owners to be able to claim between $50 and $825 in reimbursement for post-warranty repairs to their engine and engine components.
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Ford Motor Co., reacting to U.S. pickup sales that have gained momentum for almost two years straight, said it plans to add workers at an F-150 truck factory to boost production of its most profitable model line.
Bloomberg reported that Ford will hire a third crew at its plant in Claycomo, Mo., to boost F-150 output starting in the third quarter, the company said today in a statement. The No. 2 U.S. automaker is adding more than 2,000 employees at the factory for the extra pickup production and to begin building the Transit commercial van in mid-2014.
The F-Series pickup line is a juggernaut for Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford. It’s led the U.S. truck segment the last 36 years and has been the best-selling vehicle of any type in the country for more than three decades. Ford plans to make more pickups to keep up with demand after 21 straight months of increases for the F-Series as rebounding housing and energy sectors lift U.S. market share for Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
“It’s a huge vote of confidence in our truck, our sales and what’s going on in the industry overall and the economy,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, said in a telephone interview. “We wouldn’t be hiring if we didn’t think it was going to last. It is a strong indication of how we feel about our continued leadership in the segment.”
Kansas City Assembly will be capable of operating 120 hours per week after the third crew is added, up from the 100 hours per week that it’s been running with two shifts, Hinrichs said.
Ford Motor Co. is increasing Class A motorhome and commercial chassis production capacity by approximately 35% to meet renewed recreational vehicle demand in the United States. At the same time, Ford is increasing production capacity of its 6.8-liter V10 engine that powers its motorhome chassis lineup.
“We’re pleased that while other chassis manufacturers have left this segment, Ford continues its commitment to the RV upfitter industry,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, in a press release. “We’re increasing our participation in this industry as motorhome customers return to the market.”
As a result, Detroit Chassis will add 34 jobs to make more chassis for motorhomes and commercial vans, while Ford Motor Co. will make more engines for the same vehicles, according to the Detroit Free Press. Privately-held Detroit Chassis partnered with Ford to supply chassis and powertrains for recreational vehicle manufacturers such as Winnebago Industries Inc. and commercial van fleets such as UPS.
Detroit Chassis is hoping to build about 14,000 chassis in the next year, up from 10,000 last year. Almost all are sold through Ford’s sales network.
The automaker announced that it is expanding a Windsor engine plant by 25% by 2014 for production of the 6.8-liter, V-10 gasoline engine. In 2012, Ford made about 61,000 of the large V-10s that are used in motorhomes and commercial vans as well as the E-Series vans, F-Series Super Duty pickups and chassis cabs, the F-650, and third parties that use the engine as a generator.
“Ford is the only one making them (Class A chassis with a gasoline engine),” said Scott Degnan, Winnebago vice president of sales. “And they can’t supply enough of them.”
Degnan said Winnebago sold 1,700 vehicles last year and could have sold almost 30% more.
Elkhart, Ind.-based NeXus RV LLC has received received recognition as a Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) by Ford Motor Co., according to a press release.
NeXus RV is a factory-direct manufacturer of Class C and Class C B-plus style motorhomes built on Ford E-series chassis.
“By achieving a QVM certification, NeXus RV is continuing down the path of building the best Class C in the industry,” states Claude Donati, president. “We are committed to following the standards and qualification set forth by Ford Motor Co. to assure we are building the highest quality product in our class.”
NeXus RV uses Ford Econoline gas chassis for its Viper B-plus and the Phantom Class C motorhomes.
The 2013 Detroit Auto Show has already seen the world debut of the 2014 Chevy Silverado and the 2014 GMC Sierra, and to keep itself in the headlines along with its arch-rival, Ford Motor Co. will show a new Atlas truck concept that could predict a new pickup truck to come in the near future.
The Car Connection reported that the Atlas concept is all about the future of Ford’s big pickup trucks – how they’ll look, and how they’ll improve fuel economy. Atlas is the mythological figure that has the strength to carry the world on his shoulders, and Ford says that’s how the people who’d drive one see themselves.
To fit that role, the Atlas has conveniences built into the cargo bed. A fold-out step can double as a cargo retainer, for example. In the same way the flip-out bed extenders on vehicles like the Ford Explorer Sport Trac have done in the past, the step slides and rotates upward to lock in place, forming a loading surface atop the vehicle. The roof is made tougher for that reason, to hold equipment like ladders.
A few touches come from commercial vehicles. The Atlas’ cargo ramps are tucked away under the tailgate, like those on moving trucks. They’re meant to be useful for weekend fun, too – for rolling an ATV into the pickup bed.
Other features fitted to the concept include active aero shutters for the grille and wheels, and deployable air dam and running boards, all to smooth out the truck’s profile and to net 2 mpg in fuel economy as a result, Ford says. The Atlas also has a 360-degree camera system with guidelines to assist in trailer hitching, as well as LED exterior lighting.
The Atlas suggests that Ford is at least considering a commercial-duty pickup truck derived from its upcoming Transit van. The Transit goes on sale next year, and will eventually replace the E-Series full-size vans after production is up to speed in Kansas City. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Ford F-150 will turn to intensive aluminum construction to reduce weight and boost fuel economy; if that version could appeal to more upscale truck users, a Transit-based truck like the Atlas could be paired with the F-150 in the truck lineup, as a more utilitarian alternative.
Winnebago Industries Inc. has again received Ford Motor Co.’s “fully meets” classification as part of its “Truck Quality Program.”
According to a press release, the “Truck Quality Program” is the highest honor awarded to vehicle modifiers. It is based on an assessment of a modifier’s engineering capability, design and build process controls, management commitment and quality control procedures.
Ford said the purpose of the program is to assure vehicle modifiers have the capability and processes in place to “complete the vehicle in a repeatable manner that maintains the integrity of the Ford chassis system, meets federal and other standards in place at the time of the build, and provides end users with a quality built vehicle that meets their expectations.”
Winnebago Industries has received Ford’s “fully meets” classification every year since the program’s inception in 1997.
“Once again, Winnebago Industries is proud to earn the fully meets classification from Ford’s ‘Truck Quality Program,’” said Winnebago Director of Quality Control Chuck Hughes. “Our top priority is to manufacture the highest quality motorhomes on the market – and it all starts with the chassis. Meeting the stringent requirements by Ford to earn this classification shows that we are maintaining the integrity of the chassis while at the same time building the superior products our customers want.
“We hold Ford’s ‘Truck Quality Program’ in high regard and we will continue to strive to meet their expectations, as well as those of our customers.”