Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice? Ford surely doesn’t think so, as it’s all but forgotten SVT (Special Vehicle Team) is back in action. Ford will now offer “one performance Mustang and one performance truck in our lineup going forward” said executive vice president, Mark Fields at the 2006 New York Auto Show.
SVT hasn’t produced a dedicated product since 2004, when production of the F150 Lightning, Mustang Cobra and SVT Focus ended. The pressure to build the 2005 Ford GT in time for Ford’s 100th anniversary must have taken a toll on the staff, prompting all but Hau Thai-Tang to jump ship. John Coletti, the heart and sould of SVT, retired. Tom Scarpello,who marketed SVT, went to Jaguar. Chris Theodore, who headed the development of the Ford GT, is gone. Nobody was left.
“SVT isn’t dying,” Fields said. “Would I like to do more? Sure. But at the same time, we’ve got to balance our resources.” He acknowledged that SVT and Ford Racing’s marketing groups have been combined. He described Ford’s performance strategy as a three-pronged approach encompassing SVT, Ford Racing and “personalized performance” aimed at the tuner crowd.
Fields said he’s ”from the school that says performance vehicles make brands stronger…. they have a critical role in our Way Forward because they challenge our designers and engineers to excel, they excite our marketers, and they make a strong emotional connection to customers”.
Expect the automaker ”to sell 5,000-10,000 of each SVT vehicle a year going forward”, although no specifics were mentioned about what was in the works by SVT or when the Mustang and Lightning would reach the showrooms.