Operations

First of its Kind

Posted on October 1, 2001 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

It has taken more than a year from concept to reality, but the first stretched SUV to be certified by Ford’s Quality Vehicle Manufacturers (QVM) standards is on the roads.

Initiated by customer demand, Ford authorized the Excursion in June and QVM-approved coachbuilders built the first production models in September.

“It’s the first vehicle, outside of the Town Car, that’s been offered through the QVM certification program,” explains Mike Bedard, limousine and livery manager for Ford Motor Company. “One of the things that is significant about the vehicle is that our Excursion is built on the over 8,500 lbs. pick up chassis of the super-duty F series. The vehicle is built on a very sturdy, very durable platform vs. other SUVs that are typically built on a light truck platform”

The 120-inch Excursion XLT 4x2 package shares the same platform as the Ford F550 heavy-duty chassis. It has 9,900 lbs. GVW rating, including passengers and luggage, and it has a maximum of 10 passengers. Why only 10 passengers?

“Our objective in this development was not to build a bus,” Bedard explains. “Since anything over 10 passengers is considered a bus by federal standards, we wanted to certify this vehicle as a limo. We wanted to offer people a real limo, meeting federal standards as a limousine.”

Ford ran the vehicle through numerous crash tests during development. The QVM builders were required to be able to demonstrate compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for the stretched Excursion before the company would allow it on the road.

“As a service to our QVM-authorized coachbuilders, Ford Performed much of the testing required to asses compliance with the Federal and Canadian standards and provided the data to the QVMs for their analysis,” Bedard says.

To find out more of the safety requirements set forth by NHTSA, go to Ford’s Web site: www.certifiedlimo.com.

In addition to meeting federal safety standards, Ford is supporting the vehicle with its 3-year/100,000-mile ExtraCare Extended Service Plan.

“The QVM program restricts QVM coachbuilders from building vehicles in he Ford portfolio of brands that aren’t QVM approved,” Bedard says. “Now customers have the opportunity to purchase an Excursion from a certified builder that they already do business with, and have the confidence and the support of a QVM manufac-turer and the Ford Motor Company standing behind it.”

A concept vehicle was displayed last February at the LCT Show. According to Bedard, the response to the vehicle was very better than ever expected.

“There was a great response when we displayed it at the LCT Show,” Bedard says. “Everyone thought that the vehicle was more than large enough for their business needs. Canadian operators were excited since Canada won’t allow a vehicle in the country that’s not authorized to be a limousine by the..."

For more on this topic, see the October issue of LCT!

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