In an exclusive interview conducted by BlueOvalNews.com's Steve Blake, Ford Division's Crown Victoria Brand Manager Elisa Glassner and Ford Division spokesman Bill George acknowledge a growing segment of younger buyers and the strategies they're unveiling to capitalize on this new found consumer interest. They will also be discussing Ford's dominance in the police vehicle market.
BlueOvalNews: Lisa, why the new interest from Ford Division to broaden the appeal of the Crown Victoria?
GLASSNER: We are starting to see an emerging trend right now. Customers are beginning to look elsewhere beyond sport utility vehicles and they are looking for a large car with the right image, styling, and features to fit their needs, without having to sacrifice the storage and roominess normally associated with sport utility type vehicles. They don't tend to like chrome that much and we are looking at bringing a new package to market beginning at the end of the 1st quarter or start of the 2nd quarter of next year that will offer monochromatic styling, 17" wheels and tires and unique interior styling.
BlueOvalNews: Does the introduction of this new package mean that you will be focusing new resources for future development of the Crown Victoria to target this new audience?
GLASSNER: The new package that we'll be bringing out next year is our first attempt to really appeal to this group. Right now we are also looking at other ways to differentiate the Crown Victoria.
BlueOvalNews: Have you discovered whether or not your customer base chooses Crown Victoria because they associate this vehicle with safety?
"The Crown Victoria did receive a five star safety rating from NHTSA for both the driver and front passenger."
GLASSNER: I am sure that is the case because our message continues to be, and is definitely, safety. The Crown Victoria did receive a five star safety rating from NHTSA for both the driver and front passenger. So we have that, as well as, new for the 2001 model year, the standard addition of the Personal Safety System and optional power adjustable pedals.
BlueOvalNews: We've heard a lot about the Personal Safety System. Could you explain in depth what that means to the consumer and how they will benefit?
GEORGE: It's a new way of looking at safety. Instead of just surrounding you with steel bars, it's actually a computer controlled module that deploys the air bags and controls the seat belts in an all new way that takes into account seat position, speed of the vehicle and the weight of the individual. This system's module works to control and deploy those safety devices in a real time fashion so that they don't injure you, which frequently happens in accidents. It actually puts you in a cocoon of safety that is controlled by the computer in the blink of an eye. It happens before anyone could physically react to an accident situation and takes only 1/100th of a second before the system deploys all around you to put you in that cocoon of safety.
BlueOvalNews: Does your competition such as the Buick LeSabre and Chrysler 300M utilize this system?
GLASSNER: No. This is an industry first safety initiative for vehicles in this class and is solely offered by Ford Motor Company.
BlueOvalNews: Is Ford still utilizing the Fuel Inertia Switch that prevents fires or explosions, in case of an accident?
GLASSNER: Yes. That is a key safety device for our consumers and they've come to expect that from us. However, our entire message is safety and with the introduction of the power adjustable pedals, which is a very positive feature because not everyone is tall, customers really like this because it provides three inches of pedal travel, and those who are small in stature are actually more comfortable now.
BlueOvalNews: Concerning the power adjustable pedals, is there really a market for that option on the Crown Victoria?
GLASSNER: My husband is very tall and he likes the Crown Victoria because it is the one car he actually fits in comfortably. However, when I am driving, I don't want to be right on top of the steering wheel. I like the adjustable pedals because I want to feel comfortable and fit properly in the seat, so it's a good alternative and we are hearing that from a lot of customers.
BlueOvalNews: Can you confirm the production of a concept Crown Victoria and will it be making an appearance at SEMA?
GLASSNER: The vehicle that will appear at SEMA is basically our first attempt to "trick out" a Crown Victoria and we're really excited about it. We are always looking at new alternatives in that we always don't want to do what has already been done in the past.
|Editor's Note: The Crown Victoria that will appear at SEMA is monochromatic in Black Clearcoat. Both the front and rear suspensions have been lowered as well as unique interior trim, larger wheels and tires, and a floor mounted shift lever positioned between front bucket seats. There is also rumored to be engine and drivetrain enhancements as well.|
BlueOvalNews: With the demise of the Chevrolet Caprice, is Ford still committed to providing the Crown Victoria as a police type vehicle?
GEORGE: Absolutely. We are very committed. We are the leader and we have approximately 80% of the market. We just recently set up a police advisory council to actually bring the officers to Dearborn a couple of times a year to get their input on making the product even better for their particular uses. So we think we have a superior product and a great team in fleet government sales. I really think part of this story is, we are seeing kind of a carryover from the police image spilling over to retail, at least in the minds of consumers. It definitely gives the car an image.
BlueOvalNews: I am sure safety and comfort are just as important to members of the police. Will you be offering the power adjustable pedals option to them as well?
GEORGE: Yes, the power adjustable pedals are available on the police packaged Crown Victoria and it further demonstrates how committed we are to them.
BlueOvalNews: The Internet is playing a larger role every day in the automotive marketplace. Will you be utilizing the Internet to obtain input from consumers about future product offerings and development?
GLASSNER: Absolutely. The Internet is such a great medium to obtain instant feedback from a very large audience.
BlueOvalNews: Is the Crown Victoria a good value for the money?
GLASSNER: We feel that Crown Victoria is without a doubt one of the greatest values available. We offer V8 power and a fully contented - full size vehicle for under (U.S.) $30,000. You don't have to make compromises when you buy Crown Victoria.
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