The winter of 2005 has seen demand for high-content, AWD cars hit an all-time high, helping Ford 's trio of new car-based products -- the Five Hundred and Freestyle and Mercury Montego - build momentum.

Ford plans to add more AWD models over the next several years and, by 2007, expects sales of products equipped with AWD to exceed 500,000 units annually, including 400,000 car-based vehicles.

The automaker will add three additional AWD models next year.  The upcoming Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr mid-size cars will further the company's AWD sales volume growth.

Sales of AWD Five Hundred, Freestyle and Montego have represented 25%, 55% and 35% of each vehicle line, respectively - higher than initially anticipated.

More than 50% of new car buyers say they would like an AWD vehicle, while 33% of all new car buyers cross-shopped only vehicles with an available AWD system.

Between 2000 and 2002, consumers' interest in and familiarity with AWD rose 54% and the trend remained constant even when the AWD option was offered at a premium price and regardless of what part of the country the research was done.

Ford said affordability is a key driver in its growth in AWD vehicles sales. AWD models of the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego are priced as much as $US5,400 less than the least expensive AWD-powered large sedan, while the Freestyle is more than $3,100 less than the closest AWD-equipped crossover utility vehicle.

Over the past three model years, Ford has added several AWD car-based models. In 2005, the company will sell nearly 300,000 AWD car-based vehicles - 75,000 more than in 2004, a 33% increase.