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Fleet-footed Ford speeds tech developments for advanced work vehicles

Thu, 22 Apr 2010

From supplying Kraft Foods with 2,500 Fusions to leading police fleet sales for 15 years, Ford is the major player in the fleet market--and it intends to keep things that way.

“Fleet is not a bad word at Ford,” said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas. “It's like anything else in life--done in moderation, it can be very healthy.”

In 2009, Ford had the largest share of U.S. commercial (32 percent) and government (44 percent) fleet sales. And according to Fields, those at the Blue Oval “fully intend to maintain our leadership.”

To do that, Ford will offer fuel-efficient powertrains and sustainable technologies--including electric, hybrid, natural gas, propane, E85, biodiesel and EcoBoost--in its 2011 fleet lineup. That means fleet vehicles, from bakery trucks to cop cars, are getting some of the automaker's preeminent technology.

Ford takes aim at all sectors of fleet sales.

Later this year, Ford will hit the market with an electric-powered version of the Transit Connect and a Transit Connect taxi that can run on compressed natural gas or propane. Ford's Escape and Fusion will also be available with E85 capabilities for fleet customers.

In addition, Ford is rolling out a revamped Super Duty pickup, and execs are optimistic that the housing and construction sectors will recover as the heavy-duty truck launches.

The fleet momentum comes as Ford sees continued strength in retail sales; it has gained two points of market share as other companies struggle.

By Izzi Bendall