DETROIT - Ford Division is trying to push sales of the 2004 F-150 with a targeted rebate.
A program called Fast Cash started Jan. 16 and runs through March 1. Dealers were given $500 certificates toward the purchase of a new F-150 that can be given to customers at the dealer's discretion.
Ford, which has tried to combat General Motors' large cash rebates with more selective offers across its product lineup, is trying to modify the incentive game.
Fast Cash is an attempt to be more like Honda and Toyota, who tend to offer more targeted incentives than GM.
The F-150, redesigned last year, has carried fewer incentives than its competitors since it went on sale last summer. Ford offers a $1,000 rebate on regular and SuperCab models. The popular SuperCrew model has no rebate. The F-150 Heritage, which is a carryover of the old design, sells with a $2,500 rebate.
Instead of inflating all rebates, programs such as Fast Cash will allow Ford dealers to put more money against the competitors only on deals that may need the extra help.
"We're going to look at trying to launch incentives in a different way," said Marty Collins, Ford Division general marketing manager. "Especially if you've got a product that's better than the competition."
The number of Fast Cash certificates awarded was based on the dealer's F-150 sales in 2003. Every dealer got at least one certificate; the average got about five. Dealers can use up to two certificates per transaction. It is not dealer cash; it must go to the customer.
Sales of the redesigned F-150 have been strong even with smaller cash rebates than the competition. The Chevrolet Silverado has a $2,500 rebate. The Dodge Ram's rebate is $2,000.
The more expensive SuperCrew models represent more than 50 percent of F-series sales. So Ford is encouraging dealers to use the Fast Cash certificates to sell the other models and better balance their inventories.