March 5, 2012

Dick Smith Ford Interview

I had a sit down with the men of Dick Smith Ford.  I talked briefly with Mark Smith (President), Phil Smith (Vice President and 1st in line if Mark is assassinated), and Paul Richards (New Car Sales Manager).  Being guys we discussed sports, world events (Settled down, Iran.), the price of gas, horsepower, and cars. 

Light Blue Fusion is the Energi plug-in Hybrid, 100mpge.
The price of gas is affecting customer behavior more than any other factor.  Today the price of gas is closer to $3.60 and I expect their salesmen are going to have long days of customers asking about hybrids.  The customers aren’t concern about which one particularly; it just needs to say hybrid on the side.  Hybrids are great vehicles for improving fuel efficiency, but under the proper conditions.  This summer will bring the arrival of the 2013 Ford Fusion with its Ecoboost engine, hybrid model, and Energi plug-in hybrid (coming next fall).
 When the price of gas goes back down, Kansas City customers will be quick to head back to the Mustangs, large pick-ups, and SUV’s.  I always recommend the Ecoboost F-150: 364 horsepower, great acceleration, available power, and I achieved 27 mpg on the highway (a non-typical result). 


2013 Escape

One topic of hybrids that we discussed is the number of hybrid options in the Ford line.  The Escape Hybrid was pretty revolutionary when you look at hybrid styling and size.  It looked nothing like a Prius that’s for sure.  The sad news is that the Escape Hybrid is going away with the move to the third generation 2013 Escape and its Ecoboost engine.  Replacing the Escape will be the C-Max hybrid.  The C-Max is a global platform that has done very well around the world that we should start to see here in the States real soon.  This is another move to increase Ford’s globalization. 
The Fusion Hybrid has been near the top of the Consumer Reports ratings on hybrids for a couple years now and the new 2013 Fusion Hybrid promises to be even better.  With a higher electric-only top speed and higher mpg numbers than the Camry Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid, the new Fusion Hybrid looks to be very competitive.  Plus it looks aggressive and I admit to having inappropriate thoughts about it.
The trend that the gentlemen from Dick Smith discussed that stood out was their openness about trying to get Kansas City customers into more Ecoboost cars.  The reason for the Ecoboost emphasis being that hybrids get the amazing mpg numbers at lower speed and in city driving as the hybrids are using electric power.  Turns out Kansas City has a large percentage of highway driving and not a lot of stop & go traffic.  In fact the Ecoboost engines for the smaller cars can achieve similar numbers to the hybrids on the highway and cost thousands less.
We will not be seeing a lot of the electric vehicles any time soon here in KC.  The city does not yet have the infrastructure compared to the East and West coasts.  Plus Kansas City is in the top five of geographically large cities.  The whole loop of 435 with I-29 across the top can take over two hours to travel. 

Another trend that we discussed is that most dealers are having less selection on the lot.  This has become an issue because Dick Smith has been selling so many cars that they are left wanting for more at the end of each month.  Ford cut production in 2009 to make the accounting numbers work and get the company on good financial standing.  Ford has been increasing production in baby steps.  The economy is rebounding; it’s just going to take longer as everyone is playing it safe.  What this means to the customers is that you might have to wait longer than you are used to get the specific car that you want.  My advice right now is to get into a Ford dealer at the beginning of the month for the best selection.  Production will increase as Ford continues to post better sales numbers, but they are not going to jump at just one good year.  No one wants to see a repeat of 2009 and all manufacturers are playing it safe right now.
2013 Ford Fusion

                The Gentlemen of Dick Smith Ford have been having some great months; the consistent being that each month is better than last year.  In fact Ford just released its corporate numbers for February and they reflected the increase in gas prices.  If you’re looking for a car to save on gas, check out the Ecoboost engines.  If you’re looking to scare yourself, they had a Shelby GT500 on the lot.  I know I keep teasing the GT500 video and hopefully it will live up to the hype.  If you are looking for a hybrid Dick Smith has them or you could get information on the 2013 Fusion.  Either way, give these guys a call.

Mark Smith- President
Phil Smith- Vice President
Paul Richards- New Sales Manager

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