NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. said it may offer discounts on its redesigned F-150 pickup when it launches the important new truck this summer, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the No. 2 automaker might have dealer incentives, a leasing program or some subsidized financing offer, the Journal quoted Steve Lyons, head of the automaker's U.S. Ford Division, as saying.
The 2004 F-150, due in dealer showrooms this summer, will have incentives from the start of sales. "Even if you have to spend $1,000 a unit on the new one, you're still $2,000 ahead of where you are," Lyons told the newspaper. "So your margins still improve pretty well." Ford is offering rebates of as much as $3,000 on the current F-150.
Traditionally, automakers have refrained from offering incentives on new vehicles at the time of their introduction to maximize profits from early demand. But, heavy incentives have persisted in the industry for the past year and the full-size pickup truck market is getting increasingly competitive, with Japanese automakers encroaching on turf that was once the exclusive domain of American brands.
Lyons says he does not intend to let F-Series sales shrink, according to the report. Ford has redesigned the F-150 from the wheels up, offering five different interior looks, from work truck to luxury cruiser. Lyons told the newspaper he wants to expand sales of the F-series lineup including the new model, part of Ford's efforts to rebuild profits, to more than a million vehicles annually, up from 813,700 vehicles last year. Those sales were still enough to make the F-150 the nation's best selling vehicle.
Ford reported an operating profit in the fourth quarter in January due primarily to a profit from its financing arm, which outweighed an operating loss in its automotive business. At the time, the company raised its first-quarter North American production by 25,000 vehicles, saying it wanted to ensure an adequate supply of F-150 pickup trucks when it updates its plants for the new model later this year.