Here come the category busters.
In early 2000, Ford Division will begin selling a new breed of crossover vehicle.
The 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac marries a sport-utility cabin with a pickup cargo bed.
'It represents the birth of an entirely new segment,' said J Mays, Ford Mo-tor Co. vice president of design. 'It is a revolutionary step. It has the body, comfort and convenience of an SUV but the versatility of a cargo bed.'
Manufacturers are racing to create new vehicle variants as the lines blur between cars and trucks.
Ford also will field a 2000 F-150 Crew Cab. An F-150 cargo bed that is shortened 12 inches is joined to a Ford Expedition cabin.
The model is the first truck under 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight to boast four full doors and a full rear passenger compartment, Ford said.
The F-150 Crew Cab is scheduled to arrive in showrooms early in 2000. The Sport Trac is scheduled to follow about 90 days later.
Jim O'Connor, Ford Division president, would not give an annual sales estimate. Ford also would not disclose prices.
The Explorer Sport Trac seats five in a conventional sport-utility cabin. But behind the rear passenger seat is a cargo bed. 'This is for customers who want more flexibility in a sport-utility vehicle,' Mays said.
The Sport Trac will be powered by a 204-hp 4.0-liter single-overhead-cam V-6 engine. It will be available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. The cargo bed can be closed with a hard tonneau cover that folds and locks.
The F-150 Crew Cab will be available with a standard 4.6-liter Triton V-8 and optional 5.4-liter Triton V-8.
Mays said: 'This is another example of our strategy to expand product offerings from great core platforms.'