Monday, April 14, 2008

FORD and TOYOTA Fight for the Flag of Off-Road

Ford Motor Company and Toyota America are in a death grip to control the Off-Road high-ground in consumer sales, RAPTOR VS. IRONMAN.

The recently announced 'Ivan Stewart' version of the Toyota Tundra and the FORD F-150 'Raptor', have begun fighting it out for the American consumers attention in off-road truck sales. And the trucks aren't even in the showrooms yet!

The key attention point, Off-Road performance. Industry publications have begun the clarion call of the start of the off-road, even "BAJA" truck wars. With Toyota taking the sales lead in the United States recently and FORD stating in its current commercials, "FORD Quality is equal to Toyota", you know 'it's on'.

From TOYOTA: "Toyota and Baja racing have become synonomous thanks to one man, Ivan "Ironman" Stewart, who has won the Baja 500 a record 17 times in Toyota's trucks. Despite Ford's obvious interest in wrestling away some of the dune jumping glory with its upcoming F-150 "Raptor", Toyota still dominates in the desert. The Japanese automaker is apparently celebrating that fact and the man who made it all possible with an Ivan "Ironman" Stewart Signature Series Tundra that will be available sometime this Spring. While not a whole lot of details are available from Safari Club US where we found the story, we can tell you the truck gets big tires with deep treads, new alloy wheels, a tuned exhaust, lots of limited edition numbered badges and, get this, a shifter made from billet and carbon fiber that's modeled after Ivan Stewart's own grip. Very cool, and a little creepy, too. The truck also features a number of other upgraded components that are being supplied by Stewart's own sponsors, though they weren't listed in detail. It doesn't appear that power from the 5.7 Liter-Force V8 will be much improved, which means it should be no match for the "Raptor", whenever that truck arrives. But Toyota's got the backing of Iron Stewart himself behind its trucks, which is worth something in this game of one upsmanship."

Toyota is throwing around an Ivan Stewart super-charger kit around to compete with the raw power factory produced, by the FORD "Raptor".

From the articles: "The "Raptor" is being developed in the vein of a Baja truck with big tires, bigger ground clearance and a big appetite for jumping things like sand dunes and rows of Foci. Production of the "Raptor" truck itself is just a rumor, however, despite heavily covered prototypes seen idling around Dearborn. The addition of an SVT badge would make the secretly developed desert stormer that much more legitimate in our eyes, even if Ford's in-house tuning program has never proven itself off the beaten path."

From an insider: "As the days go on, the much rumored F-150 Raptor is becoming less wild speculation and more solid reality. Dealers were given a glimpse of the forth-coming truck at the Ford Dealer Show in Las Vegas, and they haven't shied away from spilling the beans regarding what they saw. Ford marketing boss Jim Farley unveiled the Ford-embossed front grille of the baja F-150, then showed video of a juiced-up off-road mule tearing it up in the desert. Farley also revealed some details about the Raptor's new powerplant, which is believed to be the 6.2L "BOSS" V8. Power was quoted at 380 hp, but both and Four Wheeler believe Ford is sand-bagging on the engine's real power quotient, which they feel will be in the ballpark of 420 ponies. We're guessing 420 would be a much more appropriate number considering the size of the engine and rumors that the truck may be formally labeled as an SVT product. Dealers were also shown one of the Raptor's long-travel shocks, built especially for the Raptor and has a full 12 inches of travel. Ford is reportedly very excited about the Raptor, and execs allegedly went as far as saying that the Blue Oval was going to drive the truck "right up Toyota's ass." Ouch, we hope that's a metaphor. At this time there is no word as to when the Raptor will be available to customers, but since it's being shown to dealers, it likely isn't too far off."

Another: "Ford execs are fired up about the new truck as well, telling dealers the Raptor is “the first and only Baja 1000 Trophy Truck you'll be able to buy from a dealer," and promising to "drive this (and other vehicles shown to Ford dealers) right up Toyota's a**." Now them’s fighting words!"

Here are some links to the starting flow of industry communications, bringing on the fight.



Gary Newsome