Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury
SPEECH: TOM SCARPELLO REPRESENTS THE FORD PERFORMANCE GROUP AT THE MOTOR PRESS GUILD “PERFORMANCE ROUNDTABLE”
Motor Press Guild – September 9, 2003
Remarks for Tom Scarpello
- Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here, representing the Ford Performance Group.
- I grew up in a non-car loving family… My dad played golf and drove Buicks, and my mom just drove whatever she had until it ran out of oil and the engine seized. So nobody knows where my love for cars came from, but it’s been with me forever.
- My first car was a 1965 Mustang fastback, so growing up in a small town in Georgia I was forever pegged as a “Ford man”, so I really had no choice when I decided to make my career in the auto industry that it had to be with Ford.
- I’m here today to talk about the Ford Performance Group, with the primary focus, given today’s subject matter, being the Ford Special Vehicle team.
- The Ford Performance Group was created to leverage Ford’s existing performance and specialty organizations by combining their strengths in order to best serve the performance and specialty customer.
- The three organizations that were combined to create FPG are:
- Ford Racing Technology (formerly known as SVO)
- Vehicle Personalization (known by its accessories brand, “Genuine Ford Accessories”)
- And the Special Vehicle Team, or SVT.
- You won’t see any products branded FPG, however, since FPG is a department, not a brand. The objective of FPG is to leverage Ford’s resources to dominate the performance market.
- Now to go into a little more detail about each group:
- Ford Racing technical staff, which works directly with professional race teams
- Ford Racing marketing, which is responsible for leveraging our investment in motorsports
- Ford Racing Performance Parts, which develops and sells parts for professional racers, as well as amateurs and people who just want to make their Ford vehicle go faster and handle better.
- Ford Racing Technology
- Vehicle Personalization
is a fairly large organization that develops and markets a wide range of vehicle accessories, from bedliners, to wheels, to luggage racks, to appearance items, to pretty much anything you could imagine as far as accessories for Ford vehicles.
- These products, sold under the name “Genuine Ford Accessories” go through a comprehensive development and testing process to ensure they work right, fit right, and will be durable and reliable.
- Vehicle Personalization also works as an internal supplier to program teams, assisting them with special edition models and feature content packages.
- Ford SVT
- Frankly, when I was a boy drawing cars during geometry class I couldn’t have imagined being a part of an organization like SVT has become.
… SVT is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and it is where I have spent almost the past five years of my career. And it is near and dear to my heart.
- Most of you know SVT is a small team
- In fact, SVT has fewer than 50 full time members, working outside the mainstream system to design, develop, build, bring to market and sell a family of high performance niche vehicles aimed squarely at the driving enthusiast.
- Our mission is very straightforward…”Polish the Ford Oval!”
Let me take a second to review our current SVT product lineup:
- Our flagship, the SVT Mustang Cobra, has become the pinnacle of American “pony car” performance. 390 supercharged horsepower for less than $35,000. That cannot be beat.
- The “World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck”, the SVT F-150 Lightning. Recently certified by the Guiness Book of World Records at 147 mph, it’s the truck that defined the sport truck segment, has led it for 10 years, and will continue to lead in the future.
- The SVT Focus, which has been a significant new product for Ford. It has broken into a category completely dominated by the imports, and has earned respect from some of the most critical customers around: You, the media! We believe it is the best all-around performance car available for the money.
- And then there’s the Ford GT, which will not be branded a SVT product, but is being developed within our organization.
- The Ford GT could only be built by one organization, and that’s SVT.
- The Ford GT is the result of a lot of passionate, behind-the-scenes work within SVT.
- And if producing a car like this doesn’t prove that automotive passion is alive and well at Ford, I don’t know what does.
So, what makes SVT so special? I think there are five key areas:
- The people
- The decision-making process
- Our “big” picture thinking
- The integration of marketing into everything we do
- Management support
- You won’t find a more passionate group of auto enthusiasts anywhere.
- The thing is, EVERYONE within SVT is a “car guy” or “girl”.
- We have people who are highly qualified, who could be running huge engineering organizations elsewhere, but prefer to work at SVT because they love what they do.
- We get inundated with requests from bright young engineers within Ford who want to work with us, usually from those that rotate through SVT during their new employee rotation program. And guess what? They come back.
- In short, we have the cream of the crop, and that is a key element of our success.
- First, our guiding principles are simple. We refer to them as the four SVT hallmarks: Performance, Substance, Exclusivity, and Value.
- These have guided us for 10 years and will continue to do so.
- The next step is where it gets sophisticated:
- First, get everybody in a room
- Second, argue, pound on the table, and occasionally use a few 4-letter words
- Third, make the decision.
- That last point is key–You never have all the information you need, and you can’t research everything… Sometimes you just have to KNOW what’s right.
- We stick with our decisions. No second-guessing
- Approvals are Coletti and I, then direct to senior management
- The product is everything and everything is the product.
- What I mean by that is: All activities that we engage in are product focused.
- Great products are why people choose an SVT.
- But you need to deliver on that product promise with great dealer sales and service.
- And that is where our dedicated, trained and certified SVT dealer body comes in.
- It has taken a lot of work to get our SVT-certified dealer body to the customer service levels that we want, but that is an integral part of the performance vehicle ownership experience.
- And when that new SVT vehicle gets driven off the dealership lot, that’s when you need to deliver a superior ownership experience.
- And that is where the SVT Owners’ Association comes in.
- SVTOA provides a network, or family, of other like minded SVT enthusiasts.
- We say our members are “Slightly obsessed”, but that’s an understatement.
- SVTOA is really helping to deliver on an exceptional ownership experience.
- Chapters are based at SVT-certified dealers, so members feel like they have a home at Ford.
- Chapters are independent, so they can tailor their activities to the desires of that chapters’ members.
- Activities include track days, BBQs, road rallies, and just plain, ‘ole “bench racing”.
- All of this comes into play to create what we call the “SVT Experience”.
- In this industry, we tend to treat marketing as a support function that comes alive just before you are ready to launch a new product.
- The product development organization brings the product to market, then they call in the marketing guys.
- At SVT, marketing isn’t so much a department as it is a discipline—it is the glue that holds everything together.
- We didn’t invent this process, we just applied it.
- I’m sure many of you are familiar with the 4 P’s of marketing:
- Basically, the idea is that marketing is involved in all elements of the business.
- Now, the car business is different from say, the beer business, where maybe 50% of the value added is the product and the other 50% is how you promote and sell it.
- In the car business, product is probably 90% of the value added, and in the specialty car business, that is even higher.
- The key role of marketing in the performance vehicle business is getting the product right the first time.
- And, like so many things in life, it begins with understanding.
- Who is your target customer?
- What does he or she want? and how bad do they want it (i.e. how much will they pay for it?)
- How many customers are out there?
- Can we give them what they want?
- What are our competitors up to?
- How will we be positioned relative to them?
- This is marketing—not the department, the discipline. And at SVT, everybody does it.
- Simply, our successes in motorsports and performance car development could not happen without support within the upper ranks.
- A lot of this comes down to faith. When you think about some of the most significant automobiles in history, it seems like a lot of them were leaps of faith.
- Certainly the decision to build the original Ford GT was more emotional than rational. There are those who would say that the new one is too…
- But what is definitely true is that it is not as easy to quantify the image benefit that a company gets from its specialty vehicles as it is to quantify the revenues from the sales of a mainstream product, such as a sedan, minivan, or pickup truck.
- So, particularly when times are tough, like today, you need top management support and commitment to fund specialty programs, and to do them right.
- That solid support is what has enabled SVT to grow and prosper for more than a decade.
Based on those observations of how we run the business, let’s take a look at how we’re doing:
- This year we celebrate a decade of Ford performance with SVT’s 10th Anniversary.
- We have built up a great deal of experience during that time, and we’ve put over 115,000 SVT vehicles on the road.
- That experience in the specialty vehicle business is a very tangible advantage.
- For the 2003MY, SVT plans to sell around 23,000 units. That is about 10,000 units better than we’ve ever done before in a year.
- Last year we celebrated 100 years of Ford Racing. Nobody has been racing longer. Nobody has more fans.
- We have tremendously loyal and passionate customers. The SVT Owner’s Association has over 25,000 enthusiastic members. Team Ford Racing has over 130,000 members.
So, we’re a proven commodity, and we’re on a roll.
To my colleagues from across town, welcome to the specialty business! Honestly, we’re glad you’re here. The competition will make all of us better, and provide some job security to boot. And to our media colleagues, did I mention that SVT has been in the performance business for over ten years? We wrote a book to prove it—It’s called Powered by SVT – Celebrating a Decade of American Performance. Don’t forget to pick up your complimentary copy on your way out!