PUTC: So, with the new Power Stroke, it’s roughly about a $1,500 increase in cost to meet emissions regulations over the engine this replaces?
Eckert: Yes, exactly. And when we talk to diesel customers, this is a big issue for us because we want to make sure we continue to deliver things like Ford’s clean diesel technology but at the same time Super Duty and F-Series is all about being a value oriented product and to provide choice. So, in the F-250 and F-350 we still have two gasoline engines as well, plus the diesel, and lot of other choices to appeal to buyers. We expect this new Super Duty to do very well with all buyers.
PUTC: Is the new engine available in all 50 states with the 6-speed automatic?
Eckert: Yes, it’s meets the emissions requirements for all 50 states with the new 6-speed automatic.
PUTC: What about fuel economy, with the additional filters and changes, are you seeing much of a drop?
Eckert: I think with fuel economy we are a little bit less than what we would typically see in the previous diesels. But, at the same time, we know diesel engines are about 25 to 30% more fuel efficient than gas engines. So, still from that standpoint, we’re very strong from a fuel economy perspective. The difficult part in the over 8,500 pound market is it’s very hard to peg a number for fuel economy because it’s really about how consumers use the truck. Those owners that are using these trucks heavily for towing and pulling large loads, well that has a pretty big impact on their fuel economy.
PUTC: Can you talk about the interior changes we’re seeing in the 2008 Super Duty?
Eckert: Yeah, really it’s an all new interior for us, which is huge. I think that when consumers see it they’ll be pleasantly surprised because the comment we hear most often, when we take it to shows and events is that consumers say, wow, I never would have expected this in my F-450 truck. The entire interior has been reengineered. Much more in line with the very well received interior we have in the F-150. It also has larger knobs and grab handles because we know people are going to be getting in and out of the trucks with gloves on, so we made sure the interior also met this requirement. The bottom line is we know one of the major trends in the market for over 8,500 (pound) buyers is more and more time in their cab. And, especially in this market, these buyers are spending lots of time in these trucks because they are away from home and this becomes their office. When they’re out there at the construction site they’re doing a lot of work from their truck and so it needs to be an interior that’s comfortable.
PUTC: How long do you think it will be before we see Nissan or Toyota jump into the heavy duty pickup truck market?
Eckert: Well, we can’t make any predictions about this. That’s a question you’d have to ask Toyota or Nissan. We know that with our install base, with F-150 and Super Duty and the over 8.500 (pound) market, that this is a segment we’ve always been in. We enjoy our customers. They’ve always been very loyal to us and we very much appreciate that. I don’t know what the competition might do. All we can do is concentrate on continuing to meet the needs of our consumers. I think we’ve done that with this truck. And we intend to keep our lead in full size trucks in every segment of the market. We’ve held the number one position in sales for 30 years and we’re making a commitment to maintaining this leadership going forward.
PUTC: Todd, thanks so much for your time. We really appreciate you walking us around the new Super Duty F-450.
Eckert: Thanks for your time too, to learn about our new truck.