According to Truckblog, Ford has given pre-production 2011 Ford Super Duty trucks to some business owners across the country, so that consumers can evaluate the trucks in real-world conditions. Ford will publish the results online later this week.
The company doled out evaluation versions of the trucks to customers in places like Wyoming, Texas, and Florida. Truck country, in other words. A broad range of 2011 Super Duty trucks--F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550--is being tested. All have the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8 engine under the hood, and all use a heavy-duty 6-speed automatic transmission.
Engineers from Ford will be downloading telematic data from each truck on a daily basis, in order to assess performance. The data is being posted and updated on the Internet each day.
The public is getting a peek into the evaluation process ahead of the spring on-sale date, and depending on what feedback Ford receives, it could make changes--likely minor tweaks, considering the proximity of the launch date--to the trucks. Ford may also be able to get the jump on any quality issues that may crop up.
Potential buyers may benefit from the program, too. By following the results online, customers who are considering the trucks can get a feel for how well they live up to promises in the real world, as well as gaining an idea on what fuel-economy numbers might be like.
All this, of course, depends on the consumers who are doing the testing being honest. If they only give positive feedback in order to please Ford, the company won't be able to address problems or improve the trucks as necessary. And potential buyers may feel deceived.
It's interesting that a major automaker would give the public insight into the evaluation process in advance of the launch date, but it's a clever marketing idea, assuming that the testers are honest and the product lives up to its billing. Hard data combined with strong word-of-mouth could generate positive buzz, which Ford will need, considering that Dodge has already unleashed its heavy-duty Ram trucks and Chevrolet's all-new 2011 Silverado HD will be launched this summer.
If an idea like this works well with heavy-duty trucks, perhaps we'll see more real-world testing results made available to the public as other cars, trucks, and SUVs reach their own launch dates.
[Source: Ford via Truckblog]