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.