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Pony car offers plenty of F&I opportunities

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.

Ford brand salespeople will find a lot to like in the redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang. So will Ford F&I managers.

Ford salespeople will appreciate, and tout to customers, how the Mustang saves gas, with the optional EcoBoost engine; handles more like a sporty European car, with a multilink rear suspension; and serves as a halo car for the entire Ford brand. Hey, it even has a chance to take on the Chevrolet Camaro in sales.

For F&I managers, the pony car’s appeal is simple: profits. It isn’t a lease car.

Sure, the Mustang’s high-end versions will be pricey, and the redesigned model will probably have higher residual values than the car it replaces. Both of those traits normally would imply more leases, which generally offer fewer F&I profit opportunities than sales. But that probably won’t happen.

“Sports cars have been a low-lease market,” said Jacques Brent, Ford general marketing manager for large cars and SUVs, at a press introduction last week in New York. “The bulk of the business is cash or APR.”

Mustang owners tend to buy them and hang onto them, he said. They also frequently customize their cars. Those factors make them long-shot candidates for leases, he said. “It’s not a short-term lease thing.”

Buy-and-hold, customized cars are also strong candidates for extended service contracts and other F&I products that appeal to buyers who want to baby their cars. Ford F&I managers should be happy when the Mustang arrives in showrooms.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com

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