Look for a competitive counterpunch later this year from the Ford Motor Co., as the automaker works to upgrade its F-53 Super Duty Class A motorhome chassis and generally “adjust competitive pressures” in the gas-fueled Class A motorhome marketplace.
“The competition has moved a little quicker than we have,” reports Ken Farr, RV and specialty vehicle sales manager for Ford Division’s Recreation & Commercial Vehicle Sales. “But we are in the market to play and to stay. If people were to evaluate the total number of vehicles in the marketplace, Ford has been the leader and will continue to be the leader.”
Strong words from a company that, in the Class A sector, had been put on the defensive of late by its aggressive gas chassis competitor, Workhorse Custom Chassis, of Highland Park, Ill.
“We will address the concern in the Class A market by going to 221/2-inch rubber (wheels) and also new improved frame rails that would allow the manufacturers, as they move into more slideouts, to have the stiffness of the frame that they need. We believe we are moving in the right direction.”
Also, scheduled for release in August or September as part of the company’s 2004 model year offerings, Ford plans to incorporate a Davis Trac Bar, which Farr says will help produce a stable performance and reduce sway when encountering passing big rigs on the highway. Ford’s Class A chassis currently are available in gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) of 15,700, 18,000, 20,500 and 22,000 pounds.
Meanwhile, Farr reports that Ford has decided to drop its newly introduced E-550 SuperDuty cutaway chassis, a big 17,500 and 19,000-pound GVWR Class C platform that Ford felt would allow motorhome builders to produce large Class C’s that would compete against entry-level gas Class A’s. The problem, according to some industry sources, was its relatively high price.
As a result, Ford’s largest existing Class C chassis currently tops out at 14,500 pounds GVWR.
“Ford has made a decision not to move forward with the E-550 cutaway chassis,” Farr told RVBUSINESS.COM. “This decision is made based on the company better utilizing its production capacities. We will continue to serve and support the cutaway segment with our existing product, and we look forward to other product that can support this market arena.”