SBD/January 25, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ford Unveils '13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Car Resembling Street Version Of Vehicle

Ford hopes track cars more closely resembling street cars will help spur sales
Ford officials yesterday unveiled their ‘13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, “rolling out the re-tooled Fusion that will take the track next season,” according to Kenny Bruce of SCENEDAILY.com. The car features “something of a step back in that it was designed to more closely resemble the street version of the vehicle.” Ford North America Motorsports Dir Jamie Allison said, “NASCAR listened, NASCAR led and we the manufacturers stepped up to give the fans what they want.” Officials hope that a closer resemblance between cars on the track and cars in dealerships “will help spur sales while generating more interest among race fans.” Allison said that he believes that “when fans see just how closely that resemblance is, ‘it will attract more fans.’” Bruce noted the differences in the new car include “changes in the angle of the windshield, a shorter trunk area and other smaller moves.” Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle said, “So many people wanted to get back to the old car. This is clearly not the old car, but it’s really back in that direction” (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/24). Biffle said fans are “not going to complain about” the new car. Biffle: "That thing is badass." ESPN.com’s David Newton wrote, “It's sleek. It's racy. It's everything the car we've grown to hate hasn't been.” Team Owner Richard Petty said, "If it runs as good as it looks, we'll be good" (ESPN.com, 1/24).
 
DESIGN SCHOOL: Ford is the first NASCAR manufacturer to unveil its ’13 car model, kicking off a new wave of designs that will bring the look of racing cars more in line with the look of production vehicles. Allison spoke to SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Tripp Mickle during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour organized by Charlotte Motor Speedway about what the new Ford Fusion design means for the company’s marketing and sales efforts.

Q: The old adage is win on Sunday, sell on Monday. But is that still applicable?
Allison: The evidence is unequivocal. One third of all new car buyers are fans (of motorsports). We ask them what they follow and 84 percent say they follow NASCAR. Then we compare fans to the general market, fans buy more Fords than the general market and they have higher loyalty and higher affinity.

Q: What will this design do?
Allison: Get more fans. The fans that are disengaged because the cars don’t look like cars will come back to the sport. As they come back to the sport, they will see the Ford and we’ll have a chance to win in the Ford. More fans equals more opportunities to win on Sunday and sell on Monday.

Q: So on the whole you expect more Ford sales because of the new design?
Allison: I expect the transition of getting the cars on the track to look more like the cars people drive. Ford, Chevy's, Dodge and Camry’s will bring more fans. And more fans means more opportunities to sell Fords.

Q: How did manufacturers and NASCAR get to this point where you could debut a car with this look?
Allison: I have to give the credit to NASCAR. If they’re willing to listen and lead, then results happen. They listened, they led and the results are the proof. They listened to the fans and listened to the manufacturer. They led by bringing the manufacturers together and collaborating on designs and making sure the competition is unchanged. Then they facilitated this to happen, which results in the new look of the cars.
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