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Ford committed to Flex crossover vehicle

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Ford committed to Flex crossover vehicle

BY BRENT SNAVELY

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Ford is committed to the future of the its Ford Flex crossover vehicle even though it has not met the company’s volume expectations, and it plans to launch a remake of its Ford Explorer SUV later this year.

“We do think it is a unique customer that is looking for the versatility of a people mover or a minivan,” said Doug Szopo, Ford’s executive director, global product planning and strategy, following a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s automotive conference.

The boxy Flex, introduced in 2008, is sold as a crossover vehicle and the new Explorer will be marketed as an SUV. However, some analysts have said the Flex will face additional competition from the all-new Ford Explorer SUV when it is launched later this year because both vehicles offer three rows of seats.

“We think the kind of person that is buying a Flex will continue to do that despite the new Explorer,” Szopo said.

For the first four months of this year, sales of the Flex have increased 14.8% to 12,598 compared with the same period last year. But industry sales have increased 16.7% and Explorer sales have increased 41.2% over the same period.

“As you know, the Flex didn’t have the volume we might have thought, … but it seems to be a pretty sustainable volume,” Szopo said.

Another benefit for Ford, Szopo said, is the price of the Flex. The Flex, which starts at about $28,000 for a base model, quickly rises in price into the mid $30,000 range and many buyers tend to buy the higher series versions of the Flex. Ford builds the Flex and the Lincoln MKT at an assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario.

link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100511/BUSINESS01/100511052/1210/Ford-committed-to-Flex-vehicle

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duh, NSS> Flex is not priced for a volume vehicle. Ford decided to jack up the prices, the Flex priced lots higher than a Chrysler van in terms of what you can buy it for. If Ford's volume is down, its their own fault.

That said, the fact that most of them sell at higher prices should be good. Ecoboost helps keep the price structure up too.

Biggest Flex problem is still that it doesn't come close to matching a minivan in cargo space. It's actually a super people mover, if you don't have to move cargo with them.

I am guessing the Explorer will be riddled with the same deficiencies in cargo capacity relative to the Lambdas that the Flex is deficient relative to minivans.

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Ford committed to producing Flex

BY BRENT SNAVELY

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

A Ford executive said the automaker is committed to the future of the Flex crossover vehicle, even though it has not met the company's volume expectations.

Meanwhile, Ford plans to launch a remake of its Ford Explorer SUV this year, offering three rows of seats like the Flex. That will give Ford another chance at capturing customers who need a lot of seating and cargo space and have traditionally been drawn to minivans or large SUVs.

Ford exited the minivan market, which made up 4% of new car and truck sales through March, in 2006 when it stopped building the Freestar. Previously, Ford also sold the Windstar minivan.

In 2008, Ford began selling the Flex as its family hauler. However, the boxy Flex has a polarizing look that some love and others don't.

For the first four months of this year, sales of the Flex have increased 14.8% to 12,598 compared with the same period last year. But industry sales have increased 16.7% over the same period. Explorer sales, meanwhile, have increased 41.2%.

In the profitable large SUV segment, however, Ford finds itself trailing crosstown rival General Motors substantially. Ford captured 14.8% of the sales in that category through March. GM, meanwhile, captured 64%.

Ford markets the Flex as a crossover vehicle. The new Explorer will be marketed as an SUV.

"We think the kind of person that is buying a Flex will continue to do that despite the new Explorer," said Doug Szopo, Ford's executive director, global product planning and strategy, after a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's automotive conference.

While Szopo acknowledged that "the Flex didn't have the volume we might have thought," he said the company is pleased with the transaction prices of the Flex and its stable level of sales.

The Flex starts at about $29,725 for a base model.

LINK:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100512/BUSINESS01/5120328/1331/BUSINESS01/Ford-committed-to-producing-Flex

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