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09 Mar 12 Ford’s new luxury F-Series Super Duty ‘the ultimate status symbol’

Ford Motor Co. unveiled Friday its most luxurious pickup truck in hopes of boosting profit margins and staying ahead of competitors in the truck segment.

The 2013 F-Series Super Duty will include a new Platinum model with a chrome-detailed exterior and Ford’s voice-controlled touch-screen system, SYNC with MyFord Touch, with navigation that works even when the driver is wearing gloves.

“We’re meeting customer demand for an even more luxurious pickup truck than they can buy today,” said Ford spokesman Mike Levine.

The automaker hasn’t revealed a price, but Levine said it will cost more than the current top-of-the-line model — a diesel-only F-450 King Ranch at $68,000.

The new truck will feature temperature-controlled seating, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a satin chrome and mesh grille. Ford first released a Platinum truck model in 2009 with its F-150 light-duty series.

The market for luxury trucks has not yet been exhausted, said Aaron Bragman, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive.

“Nobody really knows where the upper end is for luxury pickup trucks,” Bragman said. “People will spend astonishing amounts for completely lavishly outfitted trucks.”

“It’s the ultimate status symbol” even though gas prices are on the rise, Bragman said. “The idea is, if you can buy the car, you can afford the gas.”

Double-digit profit margins on pickup trucks make the segment especially inviting to automakers in the U.S., where there is a market for larger vehicles. Ford’s new F-Series will compete with General Motors Corp.’s Sierra Denali and the Ram Laramie Longhorn model from Chrysler Group LLC.

The profit margins on trucks are much healthier than on compact cars or sedans.

“It doesn’t really cost (an automaker) more to change the content of their trucks, but they can charge much more,” Bragman said.

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