In an effort to ensure that its launch of the redesigned 2012 Focus goes off without a hitch, Ford Motor Company has been road testing every unit before delivering them to dealers. The thirty-mile test drives are being conducted near Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan.
The company said that the first batch of Focuses to roll off the assembly line was taken to a test track located near Dearborn, Michigan. According to Ford spokesman Said Deep, each unit was driven for 30 miles before being returned to the Wayne plant for additional inspections before being sent to dealers.
Most auto assembly plants do limited road testing on a small sampling of the vehicles that come off the line. In most cases, the tests are conducted on-site.
Such intensive testing is common for high-end vehicles according to Jim Hall, the managing director of the Detroit consulting firm, 2953 Analytics. Hall said “Porsche does it to every car they build,” but added, “It’s unprecedented for this road testing to be done on an entry-level vehicle and it’s genuinely puzzling. Is this the way to make sure you have a painless launch and that molding won’t fall off in 500 miles?”
“It’s impressive,” said Hall, “but it indicates there might be other issues they’re not talking about.”
One dealer, who attended the Ford National Dealer Council, said he was told that the extensive testing is being done in order to ensure a “flawless launch”. The dealer who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity said, “We asked, ‘Is there a problem?’ They said, ‘No. But this is such an important launch and with gas prices rising, having this 40-mpg car launched now is perfect timing for us.’ They don’t want any problems.”
According to Said Deep, “The pre-shipment drives are a key part of our quality process to ensure we deliver the highest quality to our customers.” He declined to say exactly how many units have undergone road testing or how much Ford is spending on manpower and transportation in order to conduct the tests.
Although some dealers have already received the redesigned Focus, most will not take delivery until sometime in April.
The EPA has certified the Focus equipped with the Super Fuel Economy package to deliver 40 mpg highway / 28 mpg city. The base sticker price for the Super Fuel Economy package-equipped Focus SE is $19,655, including destination charges.
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