2022 Ford Maverick interview with Ford’s Customer Communications Manager Zack Nakos

Associate Editor Byron Hurd talks with Ford Motor Company's Customer Communication Manager Zack Nakos. To discuss the 2022 Ford Maverick pricing, positioning, and where it will fit in the Ford lineup and the greater truck world.

Video Transcript

BYRON HURD: Hey, everybody. I am here with Zach Nakos from Ford. He is going to go through a little bit of the pricing and positioning stuff that we need to know about Maverick so we know where it fits into the Ford lineup, where it fits into the greater truck world.

So we are not standing next to the hybrid right now. This is the EcoBoost model. So this is the higher end trims. This one is going to be for the more aspirational customers who are looking for a kind of richer product, something a little more, I guess, fancy.

We also have a hybrid here. We'll get to that in a minute. But I want to talk a little bit about pricing in general. So the Maverick starts at $19,995 for the hybrid model, front-wheel drive. Then from there, you get up. And you get a little closer to Ranger pricing. So tell us a little bit about how this fits into both the truck hierarchy in Ford and the greater product hierarchy in Ford.

ZACK NAKOS: Thank you, Byron. We're very excited to be able to share information about this all-new vehicle. As you mentioned, this happens to be the Lariat, which is the all-wheel-drive, FX4 model, off-road model. We start with the XL, as you mentioned, as a hybrid at $19,995.

And before we ever had a vehicle on the drawing board, we started with the target customer. And the target customer became the lens through which we viewed all of the vehicle attributes, the vehicle positioning, the series. And what we recognized was that we had an opportunity to create this entry-level product to bring people into the showroom, to bring growth audiences into the showroom, and to have a vehicle for our returning sedan customers to come back to and give some consideration to in terms of their different life stage or lifestyle that they wanted to look at another vehicle segment.

One of the things that we became aware of right away was that there was this urgent need for a vehicle that had a low cost of acquisition as well as a low cost of operation. And we took the bold move to make the hybrid standard on the XL, XLT, and Lariat models. So every Maverick comes standard with a hybrid which has targeted 40-mile-per-gallon in the city and 500 mile total range on a full tank of gas.

So we're encouraged by the opportunity to retain some of those sedan customers as well as bring new people into the showroom. And that $$19,995 price, we think, will attract those first-time buyers. And we also have the mid-range XLT at $22,280 MSP and the Lariat model starts at $25,490.

So we feel we've got the right product positioned at the lower end as well as some premium offerings at the higher end.

BYRON HURD: So when you're looking at buyers-- and I know you guys are dealing with a white space product, a new product, something that's slotting in where there wasn't something before. So in your mind, you're envisioning perhaps returning Focus customers because the Focus is no longer a new product sold by Ford.

I'm also imagining you're looking at buyers who may have left behind their 2011 Ford Rangers back when it was still compact and would like to get into something of the same kind of footprint. This is about the same size. I mean, it's different. It's front-wheel drive. It's not body-on-frame. You're not getting the simplicity that the original-- well, not the original-- but the last Ranger offered.

But you're getting kind of the same utility, the same practicality, the frugality, which is different in a hybrid than it would have been with the older Ranger. But I see it as kind of like someone who doesn't necessarily need to get into a truck specifically but likes the idea of an inexpensive, easily serviced, readily available model that also happens to have a lot of that utility.

ZACK NAKOS: Exactly. As we were becoming more familiar with our target customer and spending hours or days with them, both in marketing and engineering teams, we came to the realization that a unibody could help fulfill the role that you just described.

For those that may not know, this is based off the C2 platform. It's a global platform. We're able to actually have a number of derivatives off that. There is the Focus globally that's available. There's the European Kuga, the US Escape and Bronco Sport. So the C2 platform, which is a very reliable platform, is able to do double-duty for us in allowing us to bring this pickup to market.

And all of the sort of brand promise behind Built Ford Tough has been engineered into it as well. We actually raised the validation and testing requirements above our typical requirements for a crossover or a sport utility in order to meet those Build Ford Tough expectations.

I'd also add that I think approximately 19 million miles have cumulatively been put on the C2 platform in terms of CAE analysis, computer-aided engineering, bench testing, the type of testing we do on tracks or closed environments, and then real world testing. So we feel very confident about being able to make that Build Ford Tough promise.

At the same time, we recognize that those customers that are coming out of sedans may not want a truck ride and handling that a body-on-frame type ride and drive. So with the unibody, you're getting greater maneuverability with front wheel drive. You're getting a way to optimize the suspension for a softer ride.

And we're also getting the opportunity to give a customer more space because with a front wheel drive layout, you don't have that massive tunnel going from the front to the rear to accommodate the axle. So you actually get more foot room, more leg room in this vehicle than you would with a truck.

BYRON HURD: So this one that we have out here is an FX4. So this is the off-road package. And with this, would you say the wheel base on this is going to be longer than a Bronco Sport's, right?

ZACK NAKOS: Yes. The wheel base is longer. However, it's a full 11 inches shorter than the current Ranger. So as you noted, it's more along the lines of the last-gen Ranger. It may be difficult to pick up in an enclosed space like this. But if you were to see it out on the street against other vehicles, you would see, proportionally and overall size, that it's in the compact pickup segment, which we're effectively resurrecting with this vehicle.

BYRON HURD: So would you say then that the ride and the handling characteristics of this particular car with this package would probably be similar to a mid-range Bronco Sport in terms of-- I mean, obviously, with the wheelbase difference, you're going to get a different kind of character to it. But at least in the same kind of vein as you get with one of those?

ZACK NAKOS: Yes. We're characterizing it as a crossover feel to ride and handling, ride comfort, absolutely.

BYRON HURD: OK. So that's the 2022 Ford Maverick. This is going to be going on sale this fall, Ford says. And from what things look like right now, they're actually going to hit that target. Hopefully the world will cooperate.

So this one, which is fairly loaded up, is going to start just under $25,000. Still cheaper than a base Ford Ranger. So there's a good gap there, going from the higher end Maverick to the lower-end Ranger. And remember, the hybrid starts at $19,995.