Ford is expecting a pickup in the housing and construction markets, as well as interest in more fuel-efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles to help fuel sales in commercial fleet sales.

George Pipas, Ford Motor Co. sales analyst, said Ford's 2009 share of U.S. commercial and government fleet sales hovered at 32% and 44%, respectively, while daily rental business sales are now 12% of Ford's total sales.

“Five years ago, about 16% or 17% of our business was in daily rentals, so we have reduced that, but in its place, we've increased our presence in the commercial and government fleet sectors,” he stressed. “Five years ago, we didn't have cars with strong resale values and class-leading fuel economy and quality that we have today, so many commercial customers did not turn to Ford for their needs.”

Some of that growth is due to the F-Series Super Duty, which has been redesigned for 2011 and is now in showrooms. Kelley Blue Book recognized the 2010 Super Duty with its Best Resale Value Award.

The truck offers a Ford-designed and built 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbodiesel rated at 390 hp. and 735 lbs.-ft. of torque. The engine can run on B20 biodiesel and boasts an average 18% improvement in fuel economy for pickup models and a 25% improvement for chassis cabs over 2010 models. There is also a 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine delivering a 15% fuel economy improvement, Ford said.

Towing capacity has also been increased to 26,400 lbs. on chassis cabs and 24,400 lbs. on pickups. Payload has improved to 12,711 lbs. on chassis cabs and 6,520 lbs. on pickups. It's not just the Super Duty that has Ford expecting improvements. Also helping is the success of the European-imported, diesel-powered Transit Connect, which will add an all-electric and a taxi version next year as well as more efficient powertrains and higher resale values for its vehicles.