DETROIT – Ford Motor is redesigning a pivotal product lineup, leaning on new software and connected data metrics, to boost profits in its commercial vehicle business.
The Detroit automaker on Tuesday revealed its 2023 F-Series Super Duty trucks, a lineup of vehicles ranging from large pickups to commercial trucks and chassis cabs that are used for emergency response, towing and plowing, and construction or utility work.
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“These are massively important. Super Duty is the size of revenue of Southwest Airlines, Marriott or Nordstrom. It’s a big part of the business,” Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro, told CNBC. “And now we’re bringing them into the digital age.”
Cannis declined to disclose revenue for Ford’s Super Duty lineup, but Southwest, Marriott and Nordstrom most recently reported annual revenues of between $14 billion and $16 billion. Ford reported more than $136 billion in total revenue in 2021.
Super Duty trucks have more than 50% market share in utility, mining, construction and emergency response vehicles, according to Ford, citing data from S&P Global Mobility.
The designs of the new trucks are notably different on the exterior, featuring redesigned C-clamp lights and larger grilles. But the most important changes for Ford can’t be seen by the naked eye, including new electrical architectures, or brains, of the vehicles. The updates will give Ford the ability to introduce new software, data telematics and fleet management tools, Cannis said.
The software tools will help businesses track maintenance needs, vehicle locations, driver behaviors, wasted idle time and other metrics. Fleet operators also can set operation times that would prevent the vehicles from starting outside of approved times.
Such services are viewed as major opportunities for Ford to create recurring revenue throughout the lifecycles of the vehicles – something automakers such as Ford have been unable to achieve beyond regular maintenance and repairs through franchised dealers.
The mission of Ford Pro is to act as a one-stop shop for vehicles as well as the software management that companies use to monitor them, Cannis said, laying the groundwork for subscription-based businesses and additional recurring revenue opportunities for Ford that have historically been the domain of third-party companies.
“We’re focused on maximizing productivity, maximizing the bottom line for businesses of all sizes,” Raj Sarkar, Ford Pro general manager of product marketing and strategy, said during a media briefing.
Ford Pro is one of three main business areas for the company under CEO Jim Farley’s Ford+ restructuring plan, which targets growth and value creation in all three segments in the years to come.
The Super Duty trucks also feature new interiors as well as other trailering and towing updates – both key to owners of larger trucks. The new features include trailer navigation, which plots routes that can be safely navigated with given trailer dimensions and weight to avoid potential issues with low bridges and tight turns, as well as a second backup camera that can be used when the tailgate of a truck is down.
Though Ford is investing billions in electric vehicles, the new trucks are powered by one of four V-8 gasoline or diesel engines. Large trucks such as Ford’s Super Duty are expected to continue to be powered by traditional engines for the foreseeable future.
The 2023 F-Series Super Duty is built at Ford assembly plants in Kentucky and Ohio. Pricing will be available closer to launch in early 2023. The starting prices of the vehicles currently range from about $40,000 to nearly $100,000.
Ford unveiled its new Super Duty products a day after crosstown rival, General Motors, announced updates to its 2024 Chevrolet Heavy-Duty pickup that is expected to go into production the first half of next year.