"They'll finance almost anybody on a Focus or a Ranger," says Jody Herring, vice president of Dub Herring Ford-Lincoln-Mercury in Picayune, Miss. "They're trying to (sell) those vehicles a lot harder."
Incentives have included a mix of cut-rate financing, rebates of as much as $3,000 and a $5 a day or $150 per month lease payment on certain Rangers. Some advertising has shifted to media that appeal to younger buyers, CNW President Art Spinella says.
The Ranger posted its lowest sales tally in 15 years in 2002, and its share of the small-pickup market dipped to 27.9 percent. The Ranger, last redesigned for 1993, isn't slated for another redesign until 2006 or later.
The Focus, which has had at least 11 recalls since its 1999 introduction, fell to its lowest full-year mark in 2002. In September, Ford improved the car's warranty and increased its advertising budget. Sales of the Escape dipped 11.4 percent in the vehicle's second full year.
More entry-level buyers should help down the road, says Jim O'Connor, Ford group vice president for North America marketing, sales and service. About 17 percent of Ranger buyers move up to the F-series pickup, he says.
Ford won't disclose sales goals for the vehicles. Some vary by region, including a plan to increase Focus sales in California by 30 percent to comply with lower emissions regulations.
In Oklahoma and Texas, dealers aim to boost Ranger sales by 20 percent, says dealer Jerry Reynolds of Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas.