Perhaps the most talked about vehicle to come out of this year’s international auto show season is the redesigned Ford F-150. For 2015, Ford will bring dramatic efficiency improvements to its best-selling line of pick-ups—the most important of which will come from substantial weight reductions.

By switching to an aluminum body, and increasing the use of high-strength steel in the truck’s frame from 23 to 77 percent, Ford has cut more than 700 pounds from the vehicle’s weight—nearly a 10 percent reduction. Ford says the switch to aluminum will—all at the same time—boost fuel economy, cut repair costs, and improve handling.

The F-150 has been the best-selling truck on the United States market for 37 consecutive years. While hybrid, diesel and plug-in electric sedans often dominate today’s fuel economy discussion, relatively humdrum improvements—like weight reduction—brought to the F-150 in the last few years have had a greater impact on fuel consumption in the U.S.

In 2011, Ford added its turbocharged, direct injected EcoBoost engine to the F-150, raising combined fuel economy for the model by 2 mpg—nearly 15 percent—and providing an additional boost of power. Consumers embraced the $750 option, which won raves for its low cost, better gas mileage and noticeably improved towing capabilities. Last fall, Ford surpassed 400,000 total F-150 EcoBoost sales in the U.S. For perspective, the combined plug-in vehicle market in the U.S. was 96,602 units last year.

Further efficiency gains in 2015 will also come from the addition of Ford’s new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine to the lineup, featuring a stop-start function and providing an even more efficient option than the current the 3.5-liter EcoBoost system. Ford will no longer offer its largest, 6.2-liter V8 engine option in the F-150, having apparently decided that the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost offers sufficient oomph for the segment.

The 2015 F-150 will hit the market late this year, and while final fuel economy numbers have not yet been announced, the expected impact could be big. The 2-mpg efficiency boost in 2011 doesn’t sound like that much—that is, until you consider the overwhelming popularity of the F-150 platform and the fact that pick-ups have historically been gas hogs. Consider this: Consumers choosing the EcoBoost F-150 over the conventional version save twice the amount of fuel as car buyers switching from a car that gets 35 mpg to one that gets 45 miles per gallon.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.


About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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