DETROIT -- The Ford brand plans to simplify the way it packages vehicles, starting with some new and updated 2007 models.
- Reducing the number of trim lines.
- Putting more standard equipment in base models.
- Allowing more features, such as leather seats, to be ordered as stand-alone options rather than as part of a pricey equipment package.
The approach aims to reduce manufacturing and ordering complexity. It also is expected to speed the turnover of inventory, Ford officials say.
The simplified packaging debuted with the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, which went on sale in late February. Details about packaging and pricing of some other 2007 models are expected to be shared with dealers as early as this week.
It's likely Ford will use the approach for the new 2007 Ford Edge crossover and re-engineered 2007 Expedition.
"The ordering gets a lot easier," says Barry Redler, SUV group marketing manager for the Ford brand. "It's a lot easier on the dealers for sure, and it's more simple for the customer to buy one. It's easier to stock, it's easier to sell, and it's easier to buy."
Ford nameplates, especially trucks, typically have had several trim lines. For example, the previous-generation Sport Trac had four. But only two are offered on the 2007 Sport Trac: an XLT and a Limited.
Ford kept the Sport Trac base price steady at $24,940, including shipping. But for the same price, it added content, including cruise control, power mirrors, side airbags and stability control.