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STRONG FORD SALES CREATE PLANT OVERTIME

 CLEVELAND, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Strong sales of Ford Motor Company's (NYSE: F) Ohio-made vehicles have created overtime at Ford's Ohio and Lorain Assembly Plants, helping to start 1993 on a positive note and providing optimism about the outlook for the year, the company's top sales executive said here today.
 Speaking at a news conference on the eve of the 18th annual Greater Cleveland Auto Show at the International Exposition Center, Robert L. Rewey, vice president - Ford North American Sales Operations, pointed out that January was the 14th straight month Ford's total vehicle volume was up over the prior year -- with Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers nationwide reporting about a 20 percent jump in retail car sales.
 "The Lorain-built Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar are two outstanding examples of repositioned company vehicles which continue to gain momentum...from our national 'One-Look' marketing program and price realignment," said Rewey. "From October through January, retail sales of Thunderbird and Cougar soared by 251 percent and 175 percent, respectively. Overtime began this week at the Lorain Assembly Plant because of the increased demand for these cars -- and is expected to continue for at least seven weeks."
 Rewey added that the Mercury Villager minivan, introduced last September, recorded almost 15,000 sales in the last four months of 1992, more than 4,500 of them in December alone -- contributing more than a full percentage point to the company's truck market share.
 "The Avon Lake plant continues to operate at maximum overtime -- two 10-hour shifts daily and on Saturdays -- producing 600 units a day," said Rewey. "I'm happy to note that we added 1,970 jobs to that plant before and since the expanded section opened last April, creating an additional payroll of $86 million annually."
 Total sales of Ford's Econoline Van and Club Wagon were up 35 percent last year over 1991, as Econoline secured more than 45 percent of the combined full-sized van market, leading to overtime at the Lorain plant where the vehicles are assembled from bodies made at Avon Lake. The Econoline was the best-selling full-sized van in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year.
 Three of the 10 best-selling vehicles in the U.S. were Ford trucks in 1992: F-Series, the number one-selling vehicle -- car or truck -- in America for the last 11 years; Explorer and Ranger. Two Ford cars were in the top 10 -- Taurus, the best-selling car in America, and Escort.
 "We're bullish about the potential for future truck sales," said Rewey. "Ford hit 29.7 percent of the market last year...closer to our objective of 30 percent, which we're going to work hard to achieve in 1993."
 With combined car and truck sales of 3.25 million units in 1992, Ford Motor Company captured 24.7 percent of the total vehicle market -- an increase of one-and-a-half percentage points over 1991, the company's highest share since 1978. Ford was the only major manufacturer, foreign or domestic, to gain share in both the car and truck markets last year.
 The company has three exhibits at the auto show: Ford Division, Lincoln-Mercury Division, and a display covering the two engine plants and casting plant in Brook Park and the stamping plant in Walton Hills, plus information on all 11 of Ford's Ohio plants.
 Ford is the Greater Cleveland area's private-sector largest employer, with about 15,000 people in six plants and offices. "In the past two years, through our Cleveland Community Relations Committee, Ford has donated more than $1.2 million to 80 social welfare, educational, cultural and civic organizations in the metro area," said Rewey, who is a member of the Cleveland Tomorrow Board of Trustees.
 Rewey announced that Lincoln-Mercury Division will give away a new Mercury Villager to an auto show visitor in a drawing to be held at 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 28 -- the last day of the show that begins Saturday (Feb. 20). Entry forms are available at the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit. There will be daily drawings for other prizes (Saturday through Saturday), then the eight winners will vie Feb. 28 in the Villager drawing.
 Ford display visitors also can get an additional $500 rebate on a Taurus or Sable -- over and above the national rebate on these cars. Or, they can obtain a $250 rebate on any other Ford or L-M vehicle. Personalized rebate certificates will be available at the Ford and L-M displays. They can be used at Ford and L-M dealerships through April 14.
 Rewey reviewed exciting concept cars and trucks at the Ford exhibits, including:
 - The Ford Mustang Mach III, a sporty, open-air roadster featuring sculpted carbon-fiber body panels, integral wraparound bumper systems, cat's-eye headlamps, and a 450-horsepower supercharged/intercooled 4.6-liter four-cam V-8 engine with a six-speed manual transmission. The Mach III captures some of the lines and design cues of the new Mustang to be introduced later this year.
 - The Ghia Focus, a roadster convertible based on the new European Ford Cosworth four-wheel-drive car.
 - The Mercury Nautica Villager, a special version of the minivan developed in conjunction with Nautica Sportswear. The vehicle has a new front-end design, including a new grille opening panel, new headlamps, and an innovative color scheme.
 - The F-150 Eddie Bauer Expedition, a new concept pickup truck designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. It features a winch, refrigerator, awning, and special equipment for fishing and cooking.
 - The tongue-in-cheek Ranger Jukebox convertible pickup truck, a California-style low rider/cruiser, with a 2,500-watt stereo system.
 -0- 2/19/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Carroll or Carolyn Brown of Ford, 313-322-1300/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Ohio IN: AUT SU:

ML -- DE011 -- 8373 02/19/93 11:55 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 19, 1993
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