Ford wants big sales at F-150 low end

Farm Forum

Ford had gaps in the F-150 pickup lineup it wanted to fill. Capacity constraints, however, over the past couple of years forced the automaker to focus on the upper end of the market where it had experienced the most success. Ford has remedied its truck-production situation and is implementing a strategy to attract more buyers to its lower-end pickups.

“Now that we have added a second shift in Kansas City (Mo.), we have more production capability, and as such we’re going at the lower end of the market more aggressively,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group marketing manager. “We’re really targeting that under-$30,000 transaction price.”

There’s a lot of growth in the lower end of the market, Scott said. “People who were more impacted by the recession and the economy are coming back to market — and that’s going to be the STX and XLT buyers — so we want to be more strongly positioned at the lower end of the market.”

The 2013 F-150 STX has the right content and right look, along with available 5.0-liter V-8 performance, to meet the needs of this group, said Raj Sarkar, Ford F-150 marketing manager. For less than $30,000 (when special incentives apply), a consumer can buy a SuperCab 4×2 with full body-color treatment and an attractive interior, as well as a 5.0-liter V-8, 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels, running boards, power windows, power locks and Ford’s Sync system.

The STX was created for the value-oriented buyer, and demographically it spans a wide range, said Sarkar. It appeals to younger families who are more budget conscious, but also attracts consumers in the older demographics, retirees and such, who also are being more careful about what they spend.

“So there isn’t a fixed demographic as much as there is a mindset,” he said. “A mindset that says, ‘The dollars I have are very important and I’m going to use those dollars wisely, and I don’t need more in my truck than I’m going to actually use.'”

The company’s focus with the F-150 STX is on making people feel like they’re getting a good-looking truck, because “nobody wants to feel like they ended up in the bargain basement,” Sarkar said. “But then there’s not any of the additional content these buyers feel is really not necessary.”

The 2013 STX is available in Regular Cab and SuperCab configurations, with a 6.5-foot box. Regular Cab models start at $26,230 and SuperCabs at $29,015. Four-wheel-drive traction is an option adding roughly $3,400.

An STX Discount Package adds $1,635 to the price tag. Its upgrades include: Trailer hitch and seven-pin wiring harness; fog lamps; 4-inch polished running boards (Regular Cab) or 5-inch chrome running boards (SuperCab); Sync voice-activated communications and entertainment system; SiriusXM Satellite Radio; steering wheel audio controls; upgraded radiator; six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission; and transmission oil cooler.

Standard power for the STX is the 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which delivers 302 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 278 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Mated with a six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, estimated fuel economy for 4×2 models is 17 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway. The STX 4×4 gets an estimated 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. Maximum towing with the 3.7-liter V-6 is 6,700 pounds.

Ford has the distinction of being the only manufacturer to equip its entire full-size-truck lineup with six-speed automatic transmissions, which are key contributors to fuel efficiency.

A 5.0-liter V-8 is a $1,000 option, which provides an output of 360 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 380 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. Its extra muscle comes at a fuel economy sacrifice of 2 mpg city and highway compared to the 3.7-liter V-6. Maximum towing with the Heavy Duty Payload Package is 10,000 pounds.

The STX is sandwiched at the lower end of the F-150 lineup between the entry-level XL and XLT, with starting prices of $23,955 and $29,345, respectively. All three models have the same powertrain, with the STX gaining the advantages over the XL of standard 40/20/40 cloth seats, cruise control, MyKey, information display and AM/FM radio with single disc player. The XLT trumps the STX with standard fog lamps, power exterior mirrors, first-row power mirrors and Remote Keyless Entry System.

Ford expects the new push of its lower-end pickups to add more under-$30,000 trucks to the F-150 mix, Sarkar said, but they’re not meant to take over the broader lineup.

“We will still sell a very, very strong mix of the high end,” he said, “but the strategy is really meant to grow our presence in the lower end.”