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Ford to offer Explorer owners extra loyalty incentives

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Ford to offer Explorer owners extra loyalty incentives

BY BRENT SNAVELY

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

SAN DIEGO – Ford will offer its army of existing Explorer owners extra incentives — $750 for a lease deal to $1,500 for a purchase agreement — to boost sales of its redesigned Explorer next year.

Ford will reach out to the estimated 4 million existing Explorer owners through letters and emails, said Amy Marentic, Ford’s North American car and crossover manager.

“We call them internally our secret weapon,” Marentic said.

Marentic said the loyalty incentive will be in addition to other incentives Ford is offering. The offer is already available for customers who ask for it. However, Ford plans to wait until next spring to publicizing the offer, Marentic said.

Ford began shipping the 2011 Ford Explorer to dealerships on Monday. Ford wants to build up an adequate inventory before aggressively pushing the special incentive offer, she said.

In the 1990s, Ford regularly sold more than 400,000 Explorer SUVs per year. But poor gas mileage and better performing new vehicles called crossovers have caused Explorer and SUV sales to decline in recent years. For the first 11 months of this year, Ford has only sold 50,588.

Marentic said Ford estimates that 140,000 Explorer owners buy new vehicles every year, and many of them don’t return to Ford. She said the incentive program is designed to increase their loyalty to Ford as the company launches its 2011 Explorer, which has better fuel economy and driving performance.

“We want to thank them, and to try to bring them back,” Marentic said.

The 2011 Ford Explorer will be built off of the same platform as the Ford Taurus sedan and will offer a 25% improvement in fuel economy. While many experts consider Ford’s new Explorer to be a crossover, because it is built on a car platform, Ford says the Explorer has enough off-road capability and towing capacity to meet the needs of most SUV customers.

The new Explorer is rated to gets 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway. It has a combined fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon.

Read more: Ford to offer Explorer owners extra loyalty incentives | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101207/BUSINESS0102/101207025/Ford-to-offer-Explorer-owners-extra-loyalty-incentives#ixzz17TM7AhaR

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