Ford Squeezes More from Its Models

By Igor Holas


Besides the North American debut of the , Ford will use the Chicago Auto Show to release new options on existing vehicles. First, Ford will add new productivity features to the F-series Trucks and E-series Vans. Second, Ford will add an appearance package to the 2009 Ford Edge.

High-tech and low-tech solutions for F-series and E-series

The along with its Super Duty, and Econoline siblings, is getting several innovative features to set it apart from the competition. On the high-tech side, Ford will offer a first; a factory-installed full-featured in-dash computer. An in-dash computer is nothing new, but until now it was solely an aftermarket option. From Ford, this computer will take the same space usually occupied by the navigation screen, but adds a stylus, wireless keyboard and mouse, and an SD slot. The computer connects to Internet using Sprint’s broadband Internet, and also provides directions using Garmin’s navigation solutions.

Another new feature uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology embedded in DeWalt tools to allow the owner to quickly inventory the tools in the truck’s bed and alerts the driver of any tools not present.

Yet another new feature allows crew managers to quickly track the location, diagnostics, fuel use, and other information about their fleet of F-150 trucks through a web-based application.

In this set of truly cutting-edge modern technologies, the last one is surprisingly low-tech and ingenious – to prevent theft of tools and equipment from the bed, Ford paired up with Master Lock® and developed a good old-fashioned cable lock for your truck.

Bolder look for the Edge

Ford will work to preserve the momentum of the hot-selling Edge by introducing a new Sport model. Some enthusiasts hoped for a more powerful engine, but Ford is taking the same safe approach it took with the Sport Trac Adrenalin and focusing on exterior and interior appearance. The Edge Sport will feature 22-inch wheels, eight-piece factory body kit, smoked headlights and tail lamps and unique interior details such as seats in suede-like material.

Working with what you’ve got

In this tough market, Ford would no doubt love to have more all-new models to introduce, but it is refreshing to see some innovative and creative thinking coming from the auto industry. While the Edge package is far from the innovative improvements given to the trucks and vans, it is still a proven method of keeping sales momentum going in the last year of a model before its redesign.

The features added to F-series and Econoline, on the other hand, are quite something else. A full-featured “carputer,” RFID tool inventorying, and a sophisticated fleet management system all exist out there, but until now they were accessible only through the after-market at considerable cost (and some hassle factor) and solidly out of the reach or purview of most small businesses. Like with the Super Duty lineup last year, Ford is looking for ways it can provide unique features in their market segment straight from the factory, making them accessible to wider audiences. Moreover, by providing these options directly from the factory, Ford is elevating the whole truck and van line one notch above the competition in the consumers’ eyes.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Techshake Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at .

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1 Comment

  1. The RFID and in-dash computer are awesome. Kudos to Ford for being innovative on this.

    Also, kudos go to Igor for correctly hinting last month that the Chicago show would bring a “work-related” enhancement to the F-150.

    Now, what’s up with that new Taurus?

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