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Ford to offer pricey packages

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Ford to offer pricey packages

Titanium versions of Flex and Focus due


Ford says that it plans to bring its top-of-the-line Titanium package, popular in Europe, to North America on the Ford Flex large crossover and Ford Focus compact car -- an indication that Ford may add similar packages to more of its U.S. vehicles in the future.

In Europe, Ford began offering a decked-out Titanium package with the Ford Focus about six years ago and now offers it on all of its nameplates.

"Titanium has been a very successful brand for us over in Europe," said Ford Flex marketing manager Kate Pearce.

The Titanium package will be offered on the Focus when it goes on sale early next year, and it will begin on the Flex this fall.

Ford said the Flex Titanium will feature four exterior color choices: Red candy, white platinum, tuxedo black and ingot silver. All are paired with a black two-tone roof and a unique black chrome finish grille. Inside, the Flex Titanium comes with charcoal black leather-trimmed seats, painted alloy metallic finish on the center stack and a perforated leather steering wheel.

The Titanium package adds $2,495 to the price of the Flex Limited Edition, bringing it to $43,340 or more, depending on other options selected -- a move that also fits with Ford's strategy to increase transaction prices, and, consequently, profits.

In 2009, Ford reported a $5.5-billion net pricing improvement, which resulted from higher average transaction prices and a reduction in average vehicle incentives.

"Is it an opportunity for the bottom line? Certainly," Pearce said.

Ford also remains committed to the Flex, despite its low sales volume, because of the high average transaction prices that will be even higher when customers select the Titanium package.

Introduced in 2008, the boxy Flex has not met sales expectations. For the first four months of this year, Flex sales have increased 14.8% to 12,598 compared with the same period last year while industry sales have increased 16.7%.

But while some dislike the polarizing design, others love it and the customers who buy the Flex typically select a lot of high-priced options.

In 2009, Pearce said, 40% of Flex buyers bought the Flex Limited Edition, which is currently the most expensive base version of the three-row crossover. Half of all Flex buyers selected a refrigerator.

That made the Flex the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Ford's Titanium package in the U.S., Pearce said.



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