Ford Motor Co. may use incentives when it launches its redesigned F-150 flagship truck this summer, but it won't carry a large cash rebate.
"I wouldn't say none," Ford Division chief Steve Lyons said of incentive possibilities, "but you might see different. They might be to the dealer. They might be (lease support). I don't think you'll see any big $2,500 cash back."
Ford will continue to run cash incentives on the current F-150, which will be produced through mid-2004.
With the production ramp-up, Lyons estimated that Ford could lose as many as 50,000 sales across the full F-series truck line in 2003 as compared with 2002. Two plants will produce the redesigned truck this summer, and a third plant will come on line next year. The redesigned pickups are slated to hit showrooms in August or September.
"You can't have this kind of changeover without a slowdown in availability," Lyons said.
Pennsylvania dealer Michael Ken-nedy, chairman of the Ford dealer council, said dealers eagerly await the new F-150 and expect it will be a competitive seller without large discounts.
"That truck's our franchise," Kennedy said, "and everybody can't wait to get their hands on it. It's the mother lode."
Kennedy said capacity is the only problem expected for the F-150; dealers won't be able to get the vehicles as fast as they can sell them.
Dealers crowded into a 900-seat room for Ford's make meeting. Kennedy and several dealers leaving the meeting described the tone as positive. The product lineup looks good, they said, and the debate over the Blue Oval program seems to be over.
Lyons also confirmed that Ford will drop the Windstar name when it introduces a minivan this year. The minivan - and its name - will debut at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday, Feb. 13. Production will begin in August, and the minivan will hit showrooms in September. The new name will start with an "F," following Ford's new letter-based badging
"We've spent a lot of money. This vehicle is all new," Lyons said. "If we don't signal there's something big here, the sales force will say, 'That's just another Windstar.' They won't take the time to learn it."
Lyons said the new Freestyle sport wagon and Five Hundred sedan will come out in summer 2004. Both vehicles, which will be made at a renovated Chicago assembly plant, will debut simultaneously.
Some dealers have asked for a new product for the mid-sized slot between the Focus and the Taurus. "We have a plan" for that spot, Lyons said.
Said Kennedy: "They have a plan; they just won't tell us what it is."