NEW YORK -- Ford Motor Co.'s Special Vehicle Team will survive, Ford executive Mark Fields says. But the performance brand has been scaled back.
Going forward, Ford will offer one high-performance Mustang and one high-performance truck in its lineup, Fields said last week here at the New York auto show.
Ford expects to sell 5,000 to 10,000 units of each SVT vehicle annually, he said.
Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, wouldn't say what kind of truck is in the works or when it would debut. The Shelby GT500, the latest Mustang developed by SVT, is scheduled to go on sale this summer.
A two-vehicle stable is a departure from a year ago, when Ford said SVT eventually would have as many as five products, more than ever before. One of those was to have been the Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin in 2007. It later was canceled as part of the automaker's Way Forward restructuring plan.
That cancellation, plus other changes for SVT, had triggered apprehension over the performance brand's future. Fields tried to put those fears to rest.
"SVT isn't dying," he said. "Would I like to do more? Sure. But at the same time, we've got to balance our resources."
Fields acknowledged that SVT and Ford Racing's marketing groups have been combined. He described Ford's performance strategy as a three-pronged approach encompassing SVT, Ford Racing and "personalized performance" aimed at the tuner crowd.
Although SVT has been scaled back, Fields said he is "from the school that says performance vehicles make brands stronger."
"I believe they have a critical role in our Way Forward because they challenge our designers and engineers to excel, they excite our marketers, and they make a strong emotional connection to customers."
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