The Joy of S** as Ford Ups Production

AutoInformed.com on Kentucky Truck Plant is home to two of Ford and Lincoln’s most successful vehicles, Expedition and Navigator.

“Our team completely rethought every inch of Expedition.”

Size matters as the ads and street slang say, so Ford is increasing production of Expedition and Lincoln Navigator again this summer by 20% to meet swelling customer demand, adding 550 jobs at Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville and moving approximately that same number of jobs from Louisville Assembly Plant. Production bulges after the summer shutdown in July.

Expedition retail sales increased 35% in 2018 and its market segment share gained 5.6% points, while from the 2017 to 2018 model year, average transaction pricing grew by $11,700 to, gulp, $62,700; Navigator sales increased 70% in 2018, its best year since 2007.

Ford unveils its new “Better Big” marketing campaign this week, highlighting Expedition’s best-in-class towing and legroom, and the most driver-assist technology. While Expedition sales continue to grow, Ford is launching a new marketing campaign to build further awareness of Expedition’s class-leading features and capabilities.

Last October, Ford showed its then new “Built Ford Proud” advertising campaign saying that new vehicles are coming in 2019. The ads were the first output following the redesign of Ford’s global marketing. (See Ford Motor US Sales Reverse in September. Job Cuts Coming and Bye J Walter Thompson as Ford Sacks Global Marketing, Adds New Creative Agency and More In-House Workers)

“After seeing a continued increase in customer demand for Expedition and Navigator, we are boosting production for a second time to meet it,” said John Savona, Ford vice president, North American manufacturing.

To produce more Expeditions and Navigators, Ford increased the line speed at Kentucky Truck. The manufacturing managers gathered a group of salaried and hourly workers together to analyze the cycle times of each operation and found there were jobs that could not be completed in the allotted time. So, they added more workstations and split up some tasks to help employees keep it up.

 New Ads ‘Out-Bigs’ the Competition

“We ‘out-big’ the competition where it counts – towing, interior space and technology,” said Matt VanDyke, Ford director, U.S. marketing. “Our team completely rethought every inch of Expedition, and its growing sales reaffirm we hit the sweet spot with today’s full-size SUV customers.”

While growth remains strong with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the latest customers include a greater number of older Millennials – a 5% increase – who now comprise 14% of Expedition buyers.

“Expedition is winning with a whole new group of customers, first-time homeowners who are starting new families, including the oldest Millennials,” said VanDyke. “These customers crave roominess, capability and technology that make their lives easier.”

The television spots, voiced by actor Bryan Cranston, build upon the Built Ford Proud campaign by championing Ford’s largest SUV with its eight-passenger, best-in-class 9,300-pound trailer-towing, vista-roofed style. Ads include:

  • Leave No One: A look at Expedition’s seating for eight people, including room for adults in the third row, as well as its ability to tow a two-horse trailer.
  • Better Big: Highlights Expedition’s class-leading roominess and interior space.
  • Curtain: A 30-second tribute to Expedition’s sunroof – the largest in its class.

Ford will also promote Expedition during this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards in April. Eight specially selected fans will drive around Las Vegas in the 2019 Expedition singing ACMA-nominated songs. The show will broadcast the reaction of the artist whose song was featured.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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