New Package

Ford is making new XLT Sport Appearance Package available on 2021 Explorer

Ford is bringing back the XLT Sport Appearance Package

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

Buyers will soon be able to get their Ford Explorer with a sportier appearance. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is adding the XLT Sport Appearance Package to its options menu this summer.

"Our Sport Appearance Package offers a new styling dimension for Explorer XLT customers," said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager. "It has always been a favorite among our younger customers looking for a more energetic design and feel at a great value."

2020 Ford Explorer XLT Ford is giving the Explorer XLT interior enhancements with its new Sport Appearance Package.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The package includes a number of exterior and interior enhancements. including Carbonized Gray-painted 20-inch wheels with matching grille, skid plates and hood lettering, and finished with dual chrome exhaust tips. The cabin gets ActiveX Light Slate two-tone seats with accent stitching, matching the center console lid and door trim panels.

In previous Explorer editions, the XLT Sport Appearance Package was added to 25 percent of Explorer XLT trim level models that were sold. Ford says that the appearance package entices more young SUV buyers to shop at their dealerships.

The Explorer isn't the only model Ford is adding packages to. It's Super Duty pickup now is available with a Tremor Off-Road Package, there's a new FX4 Off-Road Package for the Expedition, and Rangers with two-wheel drive can now be equipped with the FX2 Package to increase their off-roading prowess.

The 2020 Ford Explorer XLT starts at $36,675. Pricing for the package is likely to be over $1,000. Models with the package will arrive on dealership lots later this summer.

A new program by Ford and Lincoln allows app users to shop for Nationwide insurance via app.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Shopping for new insurance? Ford and Lincoln have partnered with Nationwide to help owners of the companies' vehicles obtain the right type of insurance for their needs. All the "paperwork" can be done electronically via the FordPass or Lincoln Way app.

Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure, powered by Nationwide, offer an all-digital way to secure usage-based insurance coverage through Ford Motor Credit Company's licensed insurance agency. As part of the usage-based insurance plan, Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure policyholders consent to be enrolled in Nationwide's SmartRide usage-based insurance program and will share their vehicle connectivity information with Nationwide for the initial six-month policy.

2020 Lincoln Corsair A number of Ford and Lincoln models are eligible for the insurance.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

To get a quote, users simply have to log on to their FordPass or Lincoln Way app, click on the insurance tile, fill in some information, and submit the information. To assist with the process, the app automatically fills in key vehicle information on the form.

According to a release, "customers in 39 states with qualifying 2020 Ford or Lincoln vehicles can purchase a policy in minutes and become eligible to save up to 40 percent."

"This is the latest way we're improving the customer experience," said Elena Ford, chief customer experience officer at Ford Motor Company. "Insure makes getting insurance easier for connected-vehicle customers to cover one of their biggest investments – their vehicle – while saving money."

Once customers purchase a policy, the connected vehicle will track and share distance driven, hard braking and accelerating, idle time and night driving to establish a policy rate for renewal. The data are shared with Nationwide through the vehicle's embedded modem, eliminating the need for a special app or vehicle plug-in device. Any discount will be applied when the policy is renewed.

2020 Lincoln Aviator Users in 39 states are eligible for the insurance.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

As part of the plan, customers will have access to Nationwide's standard Accident Forgiveness option, as well as crash repairs using genuine Ford parts.

"Customers want to be able to purchase auto insurance as quickly and easily as possible," said Brad Lemons, Nationwide's senior vice president of Personal Lines Product and Underwriting. "Ford and Nationwide are bringing together the best of our businesses to help make this happen in a way that is sure to delight our customers."

States where Ford Insure and Lincoln Motor Company Insure are available include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. Launches in other states are planned over time.

The insurance offer starts with these models: 2020 Ford Explorer, Fusion, Mustang, Transit Connect, Escape, Edge, EcoSport, Expedition, F-Series Super Duty, Transit, Ranger and the upcoming all-new 2021 F-150; and 2020 Lincoln Aviator, MKZ, Corsair, Nautilus and Navigator.

The new kiosks significantly cut down on the time spent checking in vehicles at dealerships.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Last fall, Ford initiated a pilot program at seven dealerships across the U.S. that installed digital kiosks designed to help improve the check-in experience for Ford dealerships. The result is a 75 percent reduction in the amount of time customers spent checking in when they arrive at the dealership for service.

"Our goal is to change the perception of the dealership experience," said Robert De Filippo, global director, Ford Retail Customer Experience. "We can start to do this by meeting rising expectations for fast and reliable service and letting each customer know they matter to us."

Ford outdoor kiosk check in Ford is piloting outdoor kiosks as well.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Liberty Automotive Group in Ohio recently ordered more kiosks after successful implementation of the initiative, which resulted in interactions lasting only 25 percent of the time of the traditional check-in at the dealership.

"The way I see it, there are two types of customers," Andrew Bellavia, Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Automotive Group said. "Customers who are coming in for quick service or maintenance on low-mileage vehicles who want to get in and out quickly, and then customers who have unique cases that they want to discuss in-depth with our service staff. These kiosks provide an option to the customer who wants to move fast, freeing up service advisors to address the more complex concerns."

Bellavia said in December the kiosk in the Brunswick location assisted 241 out of roughly 1,100 customers, and 85 percent of these said the kiosk made their check-in process easier.

Across the seven pilot dealers, the average customer check in time using the kiosk is just over two minutes. Additionally, 84 percent of Bellavia's users said the kiosk made their check in experience easier and 90 percent said it was able to answer all of their questions.

Ford explains how the kiosk experience works:

Imagine pulling up to a busy service area. All service advisors are busy assisting other customers. A wait seems eminent. Enter the digital service kiosk. Not unlike digital kiosks seen in other retail establishments such as fast-food or airline travel, digital kiosks in dealership service areas allow customers to check-in and select services without interaction with a service advisor.

Upon approaching the kiosk, the customer is prompted to enter their phone number via touchscreen. From there, the customers' primary information is displayed for verification of name, address, vehicle type, and preferred method of contact. The customer then chooses the services their vehicle needs from various menu options and selects how they would like to be contacted with updates regarding their vehicle service. Recalls pertinent to the customers' vehicle also are displayed on the screen during the check-in process.

According to Ford, outdoor versions of the kiosk currently are being piloted to provide access to vehicle drop-off or pick-up any time of day or night. The new outdoor kiosks will offer similar options as the indoor iterations and will eventually have the added capability of accepting and delivering keys.