On April 22, Ford held a press conference via webinar announcing its dedication to the fleet sector with better fuel efficiency and sustainable technologies for its fleet vehicles.
"I am pleased to announce that 100 percent of our fleet vehicles are available with fuel-efficient powertrains and sustainable technologies," said Mark Fields, executive vice president, Ford Motor Company and president, Americas. "Ford is offering our fleet customers a variety of fuel efficient solutions such as 4-cylinder engines with 6-speed transmissions, eco boost engine technology, flex fuel, B20 diesel, more hybrid choices, CNG and LPG capability and battery electric vehicles."
Fields states that Ford is doing well in the fleet sector, producing six out of the top 12 best-selling commercial fleet vehicles and three out of the top five bestselling government vehicles. In regards to daily rental, Field said, "We embraced and we continue to employ a very disciplined and strategic approach."
Total fleet volume in 2009 was 1.9 million units, down 29 percent industry-wide from the previous year. New purchases were cancelled or deferred as half of all fleet managers polled by NAFA had reduced budgets in 2009, and nearly half were asked to reduce their budgets in 2010.
Ford expects commercial fleet sales to pick up as the economy improves and businesses start to replace their aging fleets. Government spending is expected to stay flat, with an increase in hybrid interest.
Following Fields was Kevin Koswick, director, North American fleet operations, who spoke about new vehicles and features for fleet. "We're off to a very, very good start, and that's because we are providing the right cars and the right trucks at the right time for our fleet customers, because we listen to them," he says.
On the truck side, the present F series truck with 5.4L engine will be available with E85 capability. Ford also plans to introduce an eco-boost engine, which gives it V8 power in a V6 for improved fuel economy.
The 2011 F-series Super Duty truck with 6.7L diesel engine will get 18 percent better fuel economy, and the 6.2L gas engine will get a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy and will also be available for biodiesel B20.
The Econoline was made available with engines prepped for CNG and LPG applications last year.
The Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid were announced as two of the top ten green cars by Kelley Blue Book. Florida Power and Light is currently running a fleet of 145 Escape Hybrids.
The gas Fusion is available with E85 capability. Kraft Foods has 2,500 Fusions in their fleet, Koswick says.
The Transit Connect, according to Koswick, is an example of Ford responding to the needs of its clients. "They wanted a smaller van; they wanted a more fuel efficient van. They wanted one that dealt with the difficulties in the city," he says. It has a 2L engine and can get 23 mpg.
The 2011 MY Transit Connect will be offered with CNG- and LPG-prepped engines. Koswick says ADT has just put in an order for 1,500 Transit Connects, and the Canada Post will become Ford's largest government purchaser, expected to order 1,175 vehicles to replace their aging fleet. The Transit Connect also ideal for the taxi industry, which wants more fuel efficient vehicles and better maneuverability for city driving, according to Koswick.
In partnership with Azure Dynamics Corp., Ford will introduce the battery-electric Transit Connect later this year, with an 80-mile range on a full charge.
The pursuit-rated Police Interceptor sedan revealed last month will be offered with 3.5L engine with V6 and E85 capability, and 3.5L eco-boost engine. A utility version will be revealed later this year.