Ford’s all-new F150 is hugely significant and not just because for 32-years it’s been the best-selling vehicle in America.
The radical new pickup truck features an aluminium body – a first on such a high volume 750,000 a year vehicle - that reduces weight by up to 300kgs and an all-new 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 engine.
Ford intends both the alloy body technology and the V6 to filter down through its truck range, including the next Explorer (delayed by 18-months to incorporate the alloy body), and eventually to the next generation of high volume cars.
“Some people (within Ford) saw it as a risk, but it was a bigger risk to do nothing,” CEO Alan Mullaly told Wheels.
Stringent upcoming American fuel standards forced Ford to act to slash mass out of its best seller. The F150 benefits from Ford’s experience with alloy gained when the Blue Oval owned both Aston Martin and Jaguar.
Pete Friedman, an American engineer who worked on the original all-alloy Jaguar XJ, says a team of 10 former Jaguar engineers also worked on the new F150 program.
In designing the backbone of the F-150, Ford Motor Company engineers improved the truck’s fully boxed ladder frame, which now incorporates high-strength steel to make it stronger and lighter. Aluminium, featuring a similar grade to that used in the military and aerospace industry, has been applied to the body.
Buyers of the 2015 F-150, which despite the One Ford philosophy is not engineered for right hand drive, have four options to choose from. New to the F-150 nameplate is a 2.7-litre EcoBoost V-6 engine, with a stop-start system to further save fuel, that is said to be comparable with “mid-range V-8s” in the power stakes thanks to turbocharging and direct-injection.
The rolling chassis brings no surprises: front coils with double-wishbone setup, and Hotchkiss-type live axle setup with leaf springs at the rear. Steering is handled by rack-and-pinion gear, with electric boost, and there are four-wheel vented disc brakes.
You can bet a Baja-inspired SVT Raptor variant is waiting in the wings. In developing the new 2015 F-150, Ford even ran a disguised prototype in the Baja 1000, without anybody recognizing the new model.