DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is starting the new year with a new name for its commercial dealer network. The automaker's old Business Preferred Network -- roughly 650 dealerships nationwide that sell commercial trucks and vans -- are now known as Commercial Vehicle Centers. The rebranding effort also includes expanded service and enhanced training at dealerships.
"We felt compelled to step back and analyze our dealer network program in this space," John Ruppert, Ford's general manager of commercial vehicle sales and marketing, told Automotive News, adding: "There was truly an opportunity to rebrand the network to be more descriptive of what this is all about."
The enhanced training covers sales, service, parts and finance. It's meant to boost dealership staffers' knowledge of the commercial vehicle business. Participating dealers must meet requirements such as stocking a minimum number of commercial vehicles, subscribing to a commercial tools ordering system and providing a minimum number of service hours.
Dealers are launching the program now, and are adding signage to their showrooms.
In the first half of 2016, Ford's commercial business rose 9.6 percent from a year earlier and accounted for 30 percent of the overall commercial market, according to the most recent data by IHS Markit.
This fall, Ford launched a redesigned Super Duty, following updates in recent years to its F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks and its Transit and Transit Connect vans.
"It's the perfect time," said Tim Stoehr, Ford's general fleet marketing manager. "We've just finished a period of the largest investment we've ever made in our commercial products."