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DEARBORN, Mich. — In some positive news for the automaker to start the year, Ford said it is seeing blossoming interest for its new Mustang, as the number of orders for the 2011 model of the sports car is three times higher than the amount of requests for 2010 Mustang a year ago.

Specifically, the automaker said that in the month since the order banks opened in late January, close to 11,000 models have been ordered.

"Fuel economy ranks among the top two reasons people choose vehicles," explained Steve Ling, North America car marketing manager. "With the 2011 Mustang lineup, we've found a way to offer even better fuel efficiency for V-6, GT and even Shelby GT500 performance drivers — while improving performance. And consumers are responding."

Ford has seen especially strong interest for the V-6 editions, as they have comprised half of all 2011 Mustang orders. In fact, for 2011 Mustangs, the number of orders for V-6 models is 19 percent ahead of V-6 orders for new 2010 Mustangs from a year ago.

Officials noted that the new engine features 305 horsepower, but also includes an expected 30 miles per gallon (highway) fuel economy, which is 25 percent higher than the 2010 model's fuel efficiency. 

"The new engine transforms Mustang," Ling shared. "Everything people love about the car lives on, and now under the hood is a V-6 engine that uses premium technology to deliver the power, the feel, the fuel efficiency, even the sound of the best sports cars in the world."

Also available on V-6 models is also a first-ever Mustang Club of America Special Edition package. Ford said orders for this particular package have been three times higher than they predicted.

The automaker also noted a great deal of popularity in its California Special series available on Mustang GT. "Take rates" for this particular series are three times the initial expectations, as well. Officials explained that the California Special is somewhat of a throwback to the 1968 feature vehicle.

Continuing on, some of the optional technology available on the 2011 Mustangs has been quite popular, as well. Ford noted that 18 percent of orders have called for navigation, while 26 percent have requested high-intensity discharge headlamps and 10 percent called for rear-view cameras.

All of these numbers are increases from a year ago.

Next up, Ford discussed the GT model of the Mustang in more detail, noting that this edition represents 41 percent of 2011 Mustang orders.

It features a 5.0-liter, four-valve, Ti-VCT V-8 engine. It boasts 412-horsepower and 390 ft.-lb. of torque, and the model gets 25 mpg highway fuel economy.

Officials suggested that is the GT's fuel efficiency is "projected to be better than the previous model and unsurpassed in the segment."

Moving on, Ford shared that the Shelby GT500 model represents 9 percent of 2011 Mustang orders. The Shelby GT500 features an aluminum-block, 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine that features 550-horsepower and 510 ft.-lb. of torque.

The horsepower on this year's model is up 10 percent from the year-ago model, and this year's edition also has an engine that weighs 102 pounds less than the 2010 edition.

This helps it offer an improved power-to-weight ratio, improved fuel economy, acceleration, handling and steering precision.

"Mustang is ready for a new generation of buyers," Ling commented.

"With new high-tech and fuel-efficient engines, class-leading connectivity and infotainment options as well as signature style and performance, Mustang is poised to continue its legacy as America's favorite sports car," he concluded.