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EcoBoost Engines Pump Up Ford Buyer Base

Ford EcoBoost Logo

High Tech V6 Gives V8 Power and V6 Efficiency: Several years ago at a dinner with Ford Group Vice President Derrick Kuzak we had a spirited conversation about replacing V8 engines with high technology V6 engines in Lincolns. My position was that a Lincoln could not be a REAL Lincoln without a V8. Kuzak’s position was that Ford could not wait to bring high technology, high performance, high efficiency engines to market. His strategy resulted in the Ford EcoBoost engines that have now been on the market for over a year. Based on AutoPacific’s owner data, it appears that the EcoBoost strategy is on the mark.

The first EcoBoost was in the Ford Taurus SHO. The EcoBoost V6 option on Ford’s D3/D4 Platform is a twin turbocharged, gasoline direct injection unit that requires all wheel drive. Ford touts the EcoBoost V6 as having V8 power and performance with V6 efficiency (comparing it to a V6 with all wheel drive). The driving experience that the EcoBoost yields is exhilarating. These cars (Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKS) and crossover SUVs (Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT) are freeway Q-Ships. You just think where you want the vehicle to be and voila! it is there. These cars are “active safety” personified. They are designed to first avoid an accident, but, being based on the Volvo S80 platform, they can absorb an impact as well.

In early 2011, the mix of EcoBoost powertrains in the Flex is about 15% and in the Lincoln MKS is about 26%.

EcoBoost Buyers Dramatically Different – Very Upscale: But that is not the story. Delving in to AutoPacific’s Research Suite database we find that the buyer of the EcoBoost models are dramatically different than the buyers of the base models. First we have to recognize that these folks pay a whole lot more for their EcoBoost than a person buying the rest of the lineup. A Taurus SHO yields a transaction price $11,000 higher ($43,000). The Flex EcoBoost is $9,500 higher ($43,500). The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost is $7,000 higher ($52,000). The Lincoln MKT EcoBoost is $4,000 higher ($54,000). These higher prices pay for the EcoBoost powertrain and all wheel drive, but also dramatically higher equipment loads. EcoBoost products are much more likely to be equipped with all the bells and whistles like a Navigation System with SYNC and power everything.

The people who afford the EcoBoost models are much more affluent. The Taurus SHO buyer earns $120,000, a whopping $50,000 more than the typical Taurus buyer. The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost buyer earns $150,000 per year or $50,000 more than the typical MKS buyer. The Flex EcoBoost buyer at $120,000 earns $20,000 more than the typical Flex buyer. The Lincoln MKT EcoBoost buyer earns $200,000, $60,000 more than the typical MKT buyer. So, as might be expected these folks has substantially higher educational attainment but they are three- to seven-years younger than the typical buyers of these vehicles.

EcoBoost Buyers Strongly Recommend Their Vehicles: It is extremely unusual to get ALL of the buyers responding to a survey to agree on one thing, but 100% of Flex EcoBoost owners would recommend their vehicle to a friend or relative. About 95% of Taurus SHO owners would definitely recommend the SHO. About 94% would definitely recommend the Lincoln MKT EcoBoost. About 83% would definitely recommend the Lincoln MKS EcoBoost.

EcoBoost Buyers Very Satisfied With Their Vehicles: Similar to recommendations, 100% of Flex owners are very satisfied (Top 2 Box in ratings). About 98% of Taurus SHO owners are very satisfied. About 94% of Lincoln MKT buyers are very satisfied. About 92% of MKS buyers are very satisfied.

EcoBoost Buyers Want Power & Acceleration and Fun to Drive: Not surprisingly, power and acceleration is near the top of the attributes important in the purchase decision of a EcoBoost Ford. Fun to drive, handling, and braking – important dynamic characteristics are also in the top reasons for purchase.

Ford’s EcoBoost strategy is working to support the Company’s objective of moving the Ford brand upwards towards “premium” territory rather than being simply a mainstream brand for everybody. The only misstep we can see is the lack of advertising support for the Flex EcoBoost. Ford is concentrating almost solely on advertising the SHO Taurus rather than the Flex.

Don’t Forget the EcoBoost F-150: While the attention is given to the D3/D4 Platform EcoBoost entries, perhaps the biggest news is the EcoBoost F-150. While the base engine in the F-150 is a 3.7L V6 with 302HP and 278 lb-ft torque, for $1,000 more you get a 5.0L V8 with 360HP and 380 lb-ft of torque and for another $750 you get the EcoBoost V6 with 365HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. Ford indicates that about 30% of F-150 sales are going with the EcoBoost. Think about it – most full size pickup buyers expect a V8 engine. Paying a $750 premium above a V8 for a V6 is not something they are accustomed to, but they are paying that premium – and a $1,750 premium above the base V6 too! Impressive.

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