Image: Ford low cab forward truck
Ford Motor Co., whose trucks already account for a large chunk of its total sales, announced plans to enter a new segment of the market with the introduction of a low cab forward truck, which is shown in this undated handout photo.

Ford Motor Co., whose trucks account for the majority of its total sales, announced plans Tuesday to enter a new segment of the market with the introduction of a low cab forward truck.

Ford plans to begin producing the commercial truck in 2005 and market it for use in urban areas for rental and lease applications, company officials said.

A low cab forward is a short-nosed truck with a front axle set back so the cab and driver sit over the engine. The design gives it exceptional maneuverability, driver visibility and a large cargo area in relation to its overall size, Ford said.

“With sales increasing nearly 50 percent over the past decade, the low cab forward segment is one of the fastest growing niches in the commercial truck industry,” Joe Castelli, Ford division commercial truck director, said in a statement.

Ford currently holds more than 40 percent of the commercial truck market, the automaker said. The introduction of the low cab forward is part of an effort by the company to become an even more complete one-stop-shop for commercial vehicles.

The truck is being developed as part of a 2001 joint venture with Navistar International Corp. and will be built at a joint plant in Escobedo, Mexico.

In September 2002, Ford debuted its 2004 F-650 and F-750 Super Duty trucks, the first products from the joint venture. Production of the vehicles began in December 2002.

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