By Jim Mateja, Chicago Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 2--CHICAGO--There is method to the madness of renaming the well-recognized Ford Windstar minivan the Freestar when the redesigned machine comes out this fall as a 2004 model.
"All minivans look alike," said Steve Lyons, president of Ford division.
To prove his point, Lyons distributed a poster with photos of 12 minivans on it--and all namebadges removed--to the media at the preview of the Chicago Auto Show. Asked to ID each van, the media collectively failed the test. None even came close, except for those scribes who consider 2 out of 12 "close."
But it's not the media that prompted the name change. It was Ford's dealership sales crew, Lyons said.
"The big changes to our van this fall are on the inside. But since vans all look alike on the outside, salesmen think all that they have to sell is a warmed-over vehicle and so they don't pay attention to it or get to know all about the new vehicle and what it has to offer," Lyons …