DETROIT: Ford, looking for any advantage it can claim as it battles Nissan in the pickup truck market, has unleashed a new statistic for its redesigned F-150.
USA Today reported earlier this month that Ford has revised upward the towing capacity for its new F-150, the current market leader. Towing capacity is an important consideration for some pickup buyers.
Ford had said in the past that the towing capacity of the new F-150 would be 9,500 pounds. Nissan, which in December will start selling the Titan, its first large pickup, had matched that towing capacity. But now Ford is saying the new F-150 will tow 9,900 pounds. That could make a sales difference with craftsmen, farmers, and others who buy the trucks for towing purposes.
"The bragging rights of saying, 'We are number one' are pretty important," said Paul Eisenstein, publisher of TheCarConnection. com, and a veteran Detroit auto writer. "Ford has raised their towing numbers twice."
Eisenstein said Ford raised the towing number first after the January Detroit auto show. Ford has said the first numbers released were preliminary, and the first change was not a competitive move against Nissan. Ford's PR department could not be reached for comment on the latest revision upward.
Ford brand president Steve Lyons told USA Today, "We thought we would put a conservative number out there to see what the competition would do. We knew we could do better than 9,500."
Simon Sproule, VP of corporate communications at Nissan, said he doesn't plan a response to the latest revision. The message Nissan is giving the media is that Ford's maneuvers will only help the Titan by showing the public how seriously Ford takes the competition.
"We'll let the buyers do our talking for us," Sproule said.
Eisenstein said Ford isn't so worried about the first year of Titan sales - Nissan plans to sell about 100,000, a small part of the overall truck market. Ford sells around 800,000 F-150s a year, which accounted for 23% of sales last year. "It's not what Nissan plans on doing now, it's what they plan on doing in a year or two or three or four. Ford can't afford to give Nissan an easy pass," said Eisenstein.