Screencap from the 2011 Ford F-150 test-drive sign-up site
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-150
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.
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FORD TO PUT THOUSANDS OF CONSUMERS BEHIND WHEEL OF 2011 F-150 ECOBOOST MONTHS BEFORE ON-SALE DATE
- Thousands of people will have the opportunity to test drive the new 2011 Ford F-150 months before it arrives in dealer showrooms so they can see for themselves how the all-new powertrain lineup performs and how the truck stacks up against the competition
- Built Ford Tough Roundup drive program will travel to seven cities – Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles and Aberdeen, Maryland – between now and November
- 2011 Ford F-150 features the most extensive powertrain overhaul in the 62-year history of F-Series, with four new engines including a new 3.5-liter EcoBoost™
- Consumers may sign up for the drive program by visitingwww.driveF150.com
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.
The Ford EcoBoost engine will be available in 90 percent of the 2011 Ford F-150 lineup.
The Built Ford Tough Roundup, a comprehensive drive program for consumers, fleet customers, and dealership sales staff, will travel to seven cities throughout the country between now and November. Additionally, Ford will offer drives of its full car and truck lineup to fair-goers at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas next month.
“We know that once people get into the 2011 F-150 and experience the four new engines that they’re really going to be sold on them. Some of our dealers had a chance to drive it and one constant feedback was ‘Wow!’” said Mark Grueber, F-150 Marketing manager. “Customers tell us they’re really impressed with the specs of the new engines – including best-in-class horsepower, torque, trailer tow and fuel economy – but they want to get behind the wheel and compare it with the competition.”
Participants who sign up for the drive experience at www.driveF150.com will be able to test drive the new 2011 F-150 and compare the power to competitive vehicles in an acceleration drive, which is set up like a drag race. They’ll also be able to see for themselves how the EcoBoost engine performs towing a trailer.
From this site, consumers can “share” the link on Facebook and write about it on their wall. Additionally, the public registration link can be accessed directly through Facebook at: www.facebook.com/fordtrucks.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to experience how the new F-150 compares to the competition in back-to-back drives and do things they would not be able to do easily in a dealership test drive,” said Grueber.
In addition to the drive activities, there will be plenty of information on display with product experts on hand to answer questions, as well as activities the whole family can enjoy including a remote-control F-150 SVT Raptor race course and a bounce house for the kids.
The first drive event will be held in Dallas at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 24-25. Other cities include Houston, Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles and Aberdeen, Maryland. For a complete listing of dates and locations, please visit www.driveF150.com.