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Coronavirus leads Ford to launch job-loss return policy

Feedback from consumers has been key to Ford’s success: The Car Coach

Lauren Fix, known as ‘The Car Coach,’ discusses how Ford has evolved and its competition with Tesla’s Cybertruck ahead of the unveiling of Ford’s new F-150 on Thursday.

Ford has launched an extended return policy for drivers who may lose their jobs.

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The new program will be known as “Ford Promise” and will cover customers who purchase or lease a vehicle through Ford Credit, the brand’s financing initiative, according to a Monday press release. In the event that a customer loses their job within the first year of owning their new vehicle, Ford will accepter the return. Up to $15,000 will be applied to the credited balance.

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“We feel like right now, the economy is at the stage of recovery where people want things to be back to normal, they want to buy, but they’re still a little nervous about what the future holds,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. “We want them to know we understand that, and we’re here to support them in their buying decisions.”

Ford Credit will apply the average trade-in value denoted by the National Automobile Dealers Association. Returned vehicles that exceed $15,000 in value will require customers to pay the remaining difference.

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Additional customer responsibilities include late or deferred payments and vehicle damage.

When the balance is paid, the credited account will be closed.

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Once the conditions are met, the account is reported as closed and paid. The program applies to personal vehicles released for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Commercial vehicles are not eligible.

The coronavirus pandemic was Ford’s motivation for launching the yearlong return program, which has open enrollment until Sept. 30, according to the company’s release. Moreover, "complimentary protection" is being applied 30 days for customers who purchase or lease a Ford vehicle under the credit program.

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This news comes the same day auto service organization Cox Automotive reported that auto sales are down 24.2 percent for the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, which was achievable through “aggressive incentive spending.”

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Ford unveils first full hybrid pickup truck

(CNN)Looking to maintain its place as America’s best-selling truck, Ford revealed its new F-150 for the 2021 model year Thursday night. The new truck can tow and haul a whole lot, of course, but it also offers buyers luxury options such as seats that turn into beds and the promise of state-of-the art tech like hands-free highway driving.

Ford's new F-150 will test whether truck buyers really want hybrids.
The new F-150 will also be available in a hybrid version that pairs a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine with electric motors. The hybrid version not only can squeeze an estimated 700 miles from a tank of gas, it also has the most towing and hauling capability of any version of the truck. As an added bonus, users can plug appliances and lights, including power tools, into outlets in the truck’s bed and power them for days, according to Ford.

    The new 2021 Ford F-150 will be available in a hybrid version.
    Ford has yet to announce prices for the new truck, but the F-150 hybrid will be more expensive than similarly equipped F-150s with plain gasoline or diesel engines. Despite the substantial gas savings, Ford expects only about 10% of F-150 buyers will buy the hybrid.
    Prices for the current generation of F-150 start at under $30,000 for the most basic model, but rise to a nearly $70,000 base price for the Limited model.
    Ford is also working on a fully electric version of the F-150, but that was not revealed at Thursday night’s online event.

    Besides the new hybrid system, the available engine options on the 2021 F-150 remain largely the same. They include a big V8 engine, a 6-cylinder diesel and 6-cylinder gasoline engines.

    Among the available features in the new F-150 is a small table top that folds out between the front seats.
    The trucks will be available with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver-assist system, which uses sensors and hardware for things like automatic lane keeping assistance and emergency braking. A software update expected in late 2021 will enable the truck to drive on major highways in the US and Canada without the driver having to touch the steering wheel. (A small camera inside the truck will monitor the driver’s face to make sure he or she is watching the road.) The software will be available either through an over-the-air update or by visiting a dealer.

    Workspace or nap pod?

    The truck’s exterior design is also new, but retains the F-150’s trademark squarish upright stature. As with competitors’ large trucks, customers have an enormous amount of choice in amenities and styles. There are 11 grill designs alone that go along with trim levels ranging from basic F-150 XL work trucks to more luxurious Limited models.
    Higher-end versions of the truck will be available with options to turn the cab into an office space or a sleeping den. Optional front seats can recline fully flat like beds while the head and shoulder area can tilt up slightly to act as pillows.

    The tailgate of the new F-150 is designed to be used as a workbench. In the hybrid version of the truck tools can be plugged into outlets in the bed.
    There’s also an available tabletop that unfolds from the center console, the storage area between the front seats. The gear shift lever can fold down flat when in Park to make room for the table. That feature was necessary, Ford executives said, because the company’s research had shown that F-150 owners much prefer a shift lever to the round knob found in most Ford cars and SUVs.
    Buyers can also get a large 12-inch central touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. In another nod to the truck buyerspreferences, the screen is horizontal rather than vertical as in some other Ford models. That allows room for more large knobs underneath the screen so fewer things have to be managed using the screen.
    One of the challenges of owning a pickup truck is the lack of separately lockable storage spaces. In a car or SUV you can place items you don’t want people to see from the outside in the trunk or in the cargo area under a cover. With a pickup you would usually have only the open bed or the cab in which to store anything.
    Ford's electric Mustang will offer hands-free driving technology next year.
    Ram trucks offer the Rambox option, lockable bins built into the walls of the bed. The Honda Ridgeline has a lockable bin in the floor of the bed. In the new F-150, Ford’s answer is a lockable storage bin that stretches the full width of the truck underneath the back seats.
    Tailgates often function as dining tables and work benches. The new F-150’s tailgate now has specially designed indentations that can function as cup holders, smartphone stands and pencil holders when the tailgate is down. It has also been redesigned to function better as a workbench. Pockets to hold clamps are designed into the tailgate so wood can be secured for nailing or sawing. There is also a ruler embossed into the edge of the tailgate for measurements. Metal tabs that extend from the ends of the tailgate can be used as tie-downs for long items, but are also shaped so they can function as a bottle opener and you can pop open a cold one at the end of the day.

      The F-series pickups, which include the F-150 have been the best selling pickup trucks in America for over 40 years and best selling vehicle of any kind for nearly that long. This model is responsible for a very large part of Ford’s profits.
      Official EPA fuel economy figures and prices for the truck will be announced later, Ford said. The new truck will go into production in the fall.
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