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Old 03-21-2006, 07:31 AM   #1
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Unhappy another article on SVT's uncertain future...

SVT Decline
Ford to offer GT500 to all dealers as future of performance brand remains in doubt

By AMY WILSON | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

AutoWeek | Published 03/20/06, 9:36 am et


DETROIT - Beginning with this summer's introduction of the 2007 Shelby GT500, the Ford brand will let all its dealers sell Special Vehicle Team vehicles.

Now, only a limited number of SVT-certified dealers can sell the high-performance vehicles.

The change could help Ford sell more high-performance cars and trucks. But some SVT dealers are crying foul.

Meanwhile, after a two-year product drought for the SVT brand, its future is up in the air, sources say. It is not clear what, if any, products are slated for SVT beyond the GT500, and Ford has declined to talk about its plans.

Ford has about 600 full-line SVT dealerships; 700 others were certified for the now-discontinued SVT Focus. Beginning with the GT500, Ford will no longer limit the number of available certifications. Certification requirements will be different for each product. The Ford brand had 3,777 U.S. dealerships on Jan. 1.

"This will further strengthen the Ford brand by providing us with a greater opportunity to drive showroom traffic," wrote Darryl Hazel, president of Ford's customer service division, in an e-mail to dealers.

Ford says it's not backing away from performance products. Some sources say Ford is folding the SVT marketing team into the regular Ford brand team. Some also expect SVT's engineering team may be diluted or tied more closely to Ford's racing efforts.

That would be a remarkable about-face for SVT vehicles, which went on sale in 1992. Just a year ago, Ford's product chief, Phil Martens, said SVT was bigger and better-funded than ever before. Martens, who has since left Ford, said SVT would eventually have up to five products.
Ford canceled the Adrenalin as part of its Way Forward turnaround plan.

Product canceled

One of the new products was to be the Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin in 2007. But Ford canceled the Adrenalin as part of its Way Forward turnaround plan. Ford previously dropped plans for a next-generation F-150 Lightning.

SVT products typically sell for higher profits and at lower volumes - for instance, an average 7,260 units per model year for past SVT Mustangs. Ford has sold 144,994 SVT vehicles since 1992.

Ford spokeswoman Whitney Drake said the SVT organization is working on "several future projects that we aren't ready to talk about just yet." She wouldn't say whether the SVT name will be carried forward beyond the GT500.

The SVT name already is diminished on the GT500, where the logo appears on the door sills. SVT is not included in the GT500 nameplate.

Ford is committed to performance, Drake said. Hau Thai-Tang, who had been a protege of Martens, remains director of advanced product creation and SVT.

Even though SVT dealers will get extra allocation of the GT500, some are upset to lose exclusive access to the high-margin products.

"It's a terrible mistake," said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors Inc. in North Hills, Calif., which has had a full-line SVT business.

"You had a group that was very focused. They really understood the value of the product."

Making that product available to all dealers will dilute the power of the SVT brand, Boeckmann said. He cited the SVT Focus, sold from 2001 to 2004, as an example. When it was made available to an extra 700 dealers, "people sold it off like it was just a common Focus."

But another full-line SVT dealer said Ford's move might boost the automaker's overall performance business, increase volume and help the brand. Tom Addis, chairman of the Ford national dealer council, said opening SVT up to all dealers should allow Ford to market the products better.

Addis, dealer principal at Lake City Ford in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, said, "The concern has always been: If you have a product that most dealers can't sell, you're limited in how you can advertise it nationally."


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Old 03-21-2006, 09:04 AM   #2
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One of the reasons that Ford will never see me in their showrooms again

Now the service department, lol....heading there today
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:17 AM   #3
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^^ haha... that was funny.

Actually, I have been looking at the Fusion. That's the only new FoMoCo automogyro I like.
(still have not grown attached to the new, downplayed Foci styling)

I don't think the Service Dept. ever had a slowdown on customers at a Ford dealer. I wonder if anyone did a study on the correlation between the 2. Declining vehicles, inclining service repairs???

It does suck that SVT can't smack FoMoCo in the mouth and say, "Listen you up tight conservative pansy. By popular demand, we're here to stay."

Or maybe this is just a ploy to get people to go check out the SVT lines and get them before they are no more. Then by the time they were supposed to dismantle, they have a revival. (damn corporatism)
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:37 AM   #4
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SVT is just a brand but one that was so cool that you find people who were not able to get into one branding / badging their vehicle, whatever it may be, with SVT logos. And no, I'm not staying away from FoMoCo solely because of their decision to kill off the SVT division. Outside of their high end stuff, like my F-150, they don't have anything that appeals to me. The same amount of money buys much nicer stuff elsewhere.

However....if there were to be a future Lightning, Cobra, Adrenalin, Piranha (haha) or whatever, despite my misgivings about the company I have no doubt that it would be enough to get me into a showroom out of sheer curiosity when buying time comes around again.

I think it's bad business to offer the last SVT platform (GT 500) to all dealers. It must be a slap in the face to the supportive dealers of the SVT program throughout the years. Am I the only person that wonders if the "standard" dealers are ready to deal with overly picky, anal, and discerning SVT / enthusiast owners? If SVT were ever to resurface will the current SVT dealers be so eager to get back into the distribution program having been shat on now?
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by LastRites
However....if there were to be a future Lightning, Cobra, Adrenalin, Piranha (haha) or whatever, despite my misgivings about the company I have no doubt that it would be enough to get me into a showroom out of sheer curiosity when buying time comes around again.
Exactly, example... the only reason I ever even sat in an 05+ Foci was for the Saleen. Even then, I still did not like it much. (at all) I think thats the reason why SVT trayed away from the Focus (Piranha), the styling was gone.
But if they do pick u something good again, I will be right next to you going into the dealer to have a look see.

Quote:
Originally posted by LastRites
I think it's bad business to offer the last SVT platform (GT 500) to all dealers. It must be a slap in the face to the supportive dealers of the SVT program throughout the years. Am I the only person that wonders if the "standard" dealers are ready to deal with overly picky, anal, and discerning SVT / enthusiast owners? If SVT were ever to resurface will the current SVT dealers be so eager to get back into the distribution program having been shat on now?
Good point. The SVT dealers most likely will though. Its money and business, but since their vesting in SVT did not count for much when it came to crunch time.... they might return the favor. But that being the case.... how many GT500s are they making.... what happened to limited production?

AND WE ARE NOT ANAL.... at least we don't smell like we are..... :0/
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Old 03-21-2006, 10:38 AM   #6
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Yes, trusting the "regular" Ford dealers with high end stuff like the GT500 is very frightening. I could have bought my SVT from my local non-SVT dealer, but instead I drove an extra 20 miles to the nearest SVT certified dealer because I knew they had their shit together (unlike my local dealer). The mechanics for the old SVT system were specially trained to work on those vehicles, and the sales force was specially trained to sell the stuff...
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