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New Ford Edge Keeps Dealers On The Edge Of Their Seats

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IRVINE, CA - October 23, 2006: Even before the new Ford Edge started rolling off the assembly line, the company had received 20,000 dealer orders for the CUV. More than 1 million people have checked out the Edge's Web site, and 320,000 visitors have configured an Edge for themselves.

Ford dealers hope the Edge's arrival in their showrooms, the first among many new products aimed at turning around Ford's North American business.

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"The Edge will bring some new excitement to our show rooms along with increased sales," said LaVal Perry, president, Bloomfield Ford in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "I think Ford has hit a home run with the Edge, and we need more new products with the same appeal and excitement."

Shannon Inukai, general manager, Dick's Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro, Ore., agrees.

"We were fortunate enough to have the Edge at our local auto show last year and it got great reviews," Inukai said. "The styling is modern, and I personally love the Vista Roof. My salespeople can’t wait for the first one to arrive. This is a vehicle that can win back some of our lost market share."

Inukai's salespeople compare the Edge to the BMW X3 and Acura MDX crossovers, both of which are more luxury models with higher price tags. Pricing for Edge models range from $25,995 for the base SE to $29,745 for the SEL Plus.

The high expectations riding on the CUV's muscular shoulders come at a time when many of Ford's new products are still in the pipeline. While Ford has said that 70 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products by volume will be new or significantly upgraded between now and the end of 2008, the Edge and its sibling Lincoln MKX are the only all-new products at the moment.

In this context, some dealers' enthusiasm is tempered by realistic expectations.

"In today's world, we don't see the 'knock the door down' anticipation that we used to see, and I credit that to a couple of things," said dealer Rich Klaben of Klaben Ford in Kent, Ohio. "New products are coming into the market everyday, and people do a lot of their investigation on the Internet, so we don't see as many people as we're used to seeing in the days of old."

Still, Klaben has seen a number of potential buyers putting off trading in lease cars until Edge arrives and others wanting to be called as soon the Edge arrives in the showroom.

Comparisons can be misleading, but Klaben and other dealers are hoping the Edge scores the kind of initial success earned by the Ford Fusion.

"I think if the Edge can hit the ground running like the Fusion with the right advertising, the right lease payments and if the vehicle meets people's expectations like the Fusion did -- which actually exceeded their expectations once they drove it -- I think we'll have another winner," Klaben said.

Kevin Collins, owner of Collins Ford in Louisville, KY., also hopes the Edge will be the next Fusion.

"The Edge is the next vehicle that's got to measure up to the success of the Fusion," Collins said. "Fusion is the high-water mark for us right now. Beyond the obvious importance of launching new product, my hope is the Edge will really help us develop a foundation to build on."

Ford hopes that part of the foundation will be the all-important conquest sales. Ford expects that up to 45 percent of Edge buyers will be customers new to the brand.

At the end of the day, it's the Ford brand that stands to win the most from the Edge, the Fusion, the redesigned F-Series and future new products.

"What we need is a lot of these vehicles that are in a class of their own, and when you put them together, they give the total volume that we need," Klaben said. "We may never have the volume of a vehicle like the Taurus, but we've just got to get used to it. That's the way the market is."

Klaben and other dealers are hoping that new products help raise awareness in customers of Ford as a viable brand for their consideration.

"And to me, the brand is more important than any deal out there," Klaben said.