DALLAS – Ford Motor Co. believes a groundswell of demand is building for medium-duty “cutaway” truck chassis – so much so that the company has reserved an entire factory production line for its new E-550, set to roll out in January next year. At the Great American Truck Show yesterday, Ford explained that its research indicates some 42% of market demand for its E-550 cutaway will come from package delivery companies.
John Fink, director of Ford’s commercial truck sales and marketing division, went even further, saying that package delivery demand – and, consequently, demand for package delivery trucks – will grow enormously over the next three years because of e-commerce activity.
“We think the prospective package delivery truck market will grow four to five times faster because of e-commerce,” he said. “Right now, e-commerce activity is predicted to reach $3-trillion by 2004, so we want to position ourselves to be the dominant player in package delivery trucks when that demand starts to rise.”
Fink added that Ford began developing the E-550 2-1/2 years ago based on feedback from truck body makers. Those manufacturers said that there was growing demand for a higher gross vehicle weight rated (GVWR) cutaway, along with demand for more wheelbase options, better maneuverability, and both gasoline and diesel engine options.
Fink said the E-550 was developed to meet those demands. The truck comes with 17,500 and 19,000 pound GVWR options, powered by a 6.8 liter V10 gasoline or 7.3 liter Powerstroke diesel engine. The truck has 5 wheelbase options, ranging from 159.5 inches and a 49.8-foot turning radius up to a 233.5-inch and 70.5-foot turning radius. Fink said Ford also beefed up the vehicle’s front axle, giving it a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of 6,000 pounds.
Larry Cooper, Ford’s chief engineer for the E-series line, added that the E-550 increases the cutaway options already offered by the E-450 line. He also said the current production run of the E-450 line has been sold out for 2001 and he expects similar performance from the E-550 next year.
“Cutaways are a growth market for us,” Cooper said. “I’m sold out of all the ones I have now.”