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Ford Motor Co. is leading a push by commercial-truck makers to challenge defense contractors for a potential $54 billion in work replacing U.S. military Humvees with blast-proof all-terrain vehicles.

Congress added language to this year’s defense spending bill prodding the military to embrace “off-the-shelf technology demonstrated by industry” to develop vehicles that can better protect troops from improvised explosive devices. Ford has met with aides on Capitol Hill and Pentagon officials to pitch its case for building the battle-ready trucks and bypassing the usual acquisition process.

The effort by Ford, the second-biggest U.S. automaker, “is a very intriguing strategic move,” Brian Johnson, an auto industry analyst for Barclays Capital Inc. in Chicago, said in an interview. “The benefits are finding an additional market for your most profitable vehicles, such as large pickup trucks, especially at a time when the retail demand is at the mercy of gas prices.”

Source: Roxana Tiron and Brendan McGarry for Bloomberg.

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