Ford's (NYSE:F) F-150, a part of the company's F-series pickup trucks, has been the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 31 years. The company's new F-150 SVT Raptor is quite possibly the best-selling luxury version of the popular series, setting sales records in eight of the last ten months. All automakers have posted their strongest sales since the recession, and the industry expects the last four months to be even more productive as consumers replace their old cars.
Up until 2007, people used to purchase trucks just for work, but this stereotype has been broken as more people have started buying trucks for recreational use. Ford may be able to capitalize on this trend and turn the Raptor into a best-seller over its primary peer General Motors (NYSE:GM).
All across the automobile industry, days supply is the parameter used to assess consumer demand for any vehicle. 60 days' supply is considered as the benchmark and by comparison, Raptor's sales have grown 14% for 2013 and the company has only kept a 15-day supply.
Ford claims that the Raptor was developed to target people who are looking for a superior performing and rigid off-road pickup truck along with luxury features found in most of the present-day trucks. Catering to these demands, Ford has worked on a new edition of the Raptor and Doug Scott, Ford's marketing manager for trucks, stated that the 2014 Special Edition is the finest Raptor produced so far.
Ford has really put a lot of effort into developing the new Raptor and the company has also added some innovative features to the pickup truck. In Raptor, Ford has produced the first-ever application of a wheel that possess both conventional and beadlock-mounting abilities. The company believes that this solution is very innovative and has even filed for a patent on this solution.
Last year, Ford had added a front camera to the Raptor in order to assist off-road drivers when driving over abrupt surfaces. The camera also had a built-in washer function, which was provided to clean the camera in case dirt or mud blinded the camera's vision.
It'll be safe to believe that newer edition of the Raptor will include high-intensity discharge headlamps to enhance ocular clarity. The model will also include SYNC with MyFord to enable connectivity with the Internet. In addition to that, the vehicle will also have a center-mounted 8-inch touch screen pad to control the connectivity system.
Ford asserts that the Raptor also contains numerous standard safety features like:
- Safety Cage
- Dual Airbags
- Four-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (NYSE:ABS)
- SecuriLock passive Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer System
- Safety Canopy System
General Motors' hiccup
The impending launch of General Motor's new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra has generated enough excitement in the marketplace. However, reports suggest that GM can't keep up with this demand and the popularity of these V8-powered pickups is causing a few supply chain issues. The demand of these popular trucks is more than GM's ability to manufacture certain parts for the 5.3-litre V-8 engine.
The market for pickup trucks has seen its best times since 2007 and GM won't have enough time to steer clear of this hindrance as the Raptor looms large on the horizon. Full-size pickup trucks were the catalysts for GM's profit in 2012 as they attributed to more than 66% of the company's total profit. Full-size pickups generate roughly $8,000 to $10,000 in gross profit each. Therefore, it's even more important for GM to deal with this hiccup and capitalize on the booming market for pickup trucks.
The F-150 Raptor seems to be yet another great development for Ford investors. However, this pickup won't affect Ford's profitability by a huge margin as it caters to a select market -- in 2012, just 13,000 Raptors were sold as compared to around 650,000 F-Series trucks overall. But, Raptor is still an important vehicle for Ford and indicates a couple of important things.
First, Ford now has a solid idea about what consumers need in a premium truck and it can use this knowhow in the next-generation F-150. Second, Raptor's success has helped Ford gain some brownie points over GM's Silverado and Sierra. These are good developments for Ford as it looks to continue its solid run going forward, and I believe that the company can continue its terrific rise in the future on the back of such great product development moves.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.