Screencap from the 2011 Ford F-150 test-drive sign-up siteEnlarge Photo
Say what you will about Ford, but one thing's for sure: the company knows its customers, and it knows them well. So when Ford announced that it was putting a turbocharged V-6 front and center in its F-150 lineup, the automaker understood that many loyal customers would be skeptical. To put those folks at ease and prove that the EcoBoost offers just as much power as F-150 drivers are accustomed to, Ford borrowed half a page from its own Fiesta Movement campaign: prospective buyers and curious types can now sign up for a test drive of the 2011 Ford F-150 before it arrives in showrooms.
The fun begins this Saturday as Ford begins schlepping a battalion of F-150s to locations around the country, starting in Dallas, ending in Los Angeles, with pit stops in Houston, Aberdeen, Atlanta, and Orlando along the way. (Drivers in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest: it looks like you may have to do some schlepping of your own if you want a look-see at the new model.) Interested parties, just click "Reserve My Space" on the DriveF150 website, select your city of choice, and fill in a fairly simple form. You can even change your reservation if your schedule changes. Facebook junkies: you can access the form via www.facebook.com/fordtrucks, if you prefer.
2011 Ford F-150Enlarge Photo
This seems like a very smart move for Ford, and from where we sit, it shows an admirable level of respect for customers. It's not every day that you see an automaker investing this much time and energy explaining its new product to the public, face-to-face.
It's also a smart move on the marketing front. Giving fans a chance to see the F-150 in advance of its official launch gives test-drivers the sense that they're having a special, exclusive experience -- exactly the sort of thing that they're likely to share with friends, both in person and on social media sites. We expect to see a bushel and a peck's worth of photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr before all's said and done.
This also makes good sense for Ford from a financial standpoint. Given the harsher fuel economy restrictions coming in the next few years, another EcoBoost in Ford's lineup helps the automaker get its house in order.
If you're fortunate enough to have spare time this Monday, (a) don't rub it in, and (b) have a look at the full press release below. And be sure to send us photos and videos of you behind the wheel of the new F-150.
* * * * *
DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 17, 2010 – Ford will put some 20,000 people behind the wheel of the new 2011 Ford F-150 months before the vehicle arrives in dealer showrooms so they can see for themselves how its all-new powertrain lineup – including the much-anticipated 3.5-liter EcoBoost – performs and how F-150 stacks up against the competition.