Q&Auto: Marketing guru Scott, built Ford tough

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
  • "80 percent of our customers know aluminum works. My job is to convince the other 20 percent."
  • Ford's lean marketing chief touts lean F-150
  • Scott: Like the Dream Cruise, love the Baja 1000

Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager Doug Scott looks like a truck guy.

Doug Scott, marketing manager Ford trucks, introduces the 2015 F-150 earlier this year.

An imposing 6'3" tall, Scott's eyes squint at you behind a leathery face etched with tough – the look of someone who has spent a lot of time with pickups in their natural habitat, the rugged outdoors. And like the front of an F-150, that face is all business. Direct. No nonsense.

But unlike a stereotypical, beefy truck guy, Scott is a lean drink of water. That seems fitting since the truck he is flogging these days breaks the truck stereotype as well. Thanks to an aluminum and steel alloy diet, the twin-turbo, 2.7-liter, 4x4, 2015 Ford F-150 Super Crew is a staggering 780 pounds lighter than the previous generation 5.0-liter V8. In a truck with a 7,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating, that's a lotta room for equipment (or more 6-foot truck guys) in back.

"Aluminum has given us a great opportunity to improve the truck: More capability, more durability, better performance, better efficiency, better handling dynamics, and at an affordable price," says the 36-year Ford veteran, rattling off bullet points like a 6-speed tranny rifles gears. The F-150 has been the best–selling truck every year that Scott has been at Ford and he thinks the aluminum revolution is a good reason it'll be on top for 36 more.

"Eighty percent of our customers know aluminum works," he says of the lightweight metal that has girded battle ships and race cars alike. "My job is to convince the other 20 percent."

I rode with Scott on a F-150 test drive outside San Antonio, Texas where we talked tin, toughness, and the 1000 miles of Baja.

Q: What did you drive to the Dream Cruise?

Scott: A new F-150.

Q: As a pickup truck guy would you rather be at the Cruise or another event?

Scott: I'd probably like it more at the Baja 1000 (Ed. note: the brutal, 1000-mile, off-road race on Mexico's Baja Peninsula). It's really about toughness and durability.

Q: How long have you been with Ford?

Scott: Thirty-six years. The last 13 years as truck marketing manager. The first 20 years of my career I was in sales in different locations around the country. In 1997 I was Explorer brand manager. Then I had all the SUVs for three years. Then in 2002 I took the truck marketing job.

Q: Is the F-150 a game changer?

Scott: Absolutely. It's the new standard for full-sized pickups.

Q: Aluminum's benefits are well known. Why not an aluminum truck until now?

Scott: A combination of factors. We had to be prepared to manufacture a vehicle with aluminum. To master different joining techniques with aluminum. The materials supply was an issue. So a whole host of issues combined to say that now was the right time. Having it all coincide with the needs of the buyer in terms of being a better performing, more capable, more efficient truck.

Q: Ford has done aluminum before with Jaguar. It produced an aluminum-bodied Ford Taurus prototype in the early '90s. So why not do aluminum first in a sports car like Mustang? Why bet big on your franchise vehicle, the F-150?

Scott: Light-weighting makes the most sense in a truck. Because you can take weight out of the truck and reinvest that weight reduction in more capability like towing and hauling that a customer values so highly.

Q: Does this make it easier for Ford to transition to aluminum in other vehicles?

Scott: Certainly we will have learned a lot about making that conversion. So the next vehicle will be easier, yes.

Q: There is huge brand loyalty in this segment. How do you convince a RAM or Chevy buyer that this is a game changer?

Scott: Our success at launch is going to be determined by maintaining the high loyalty we have with our current customers. We'll be successful if we can maintain . . . that owner base which is the largest in the market. As for conquests, that is a bonus.

Q: This truck is loaded. How did you keep price down with aluminum and all that tech?

Scott: You have to have mentality that price is governed by the market environment — and where your competition is. Affordability has to be in the forefront. That means we have to be efficient as we build it.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.