Just an hour after the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado was voted North American Truck of the Year, Ford stole its limelight by launching its new 2015 F-150 pickup truck. "We know our truck customers," Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said. "We live trucks at Ford."
The big news is that the 2015 Ford F-150 sheds between 650 and 700 pounds, depending on trim level, compared to a 2014 model. That's mainly due to extensive use of aluminum, although Ford group vice president Raj Nair is quick to stress that the truck's boxed frame is still made of high-strength steel while, "The majority of the body, the vast majority is aluminum," Nair said. Even so, he says Ford doubts the use of aluminum will scare off customers.
"Our owners are very much owners that are working in the field, and a lot of the tools and equipment they're working with are aluminum," he said, so they are familiar with the lightweight material.
The benefit of the weight loss is that the 2015 Ford F-150 will be more fuel efficient than its predecessor, although Ford won't yet talk numbers. "It's a significant increase [but] we haven't certified any numbers," Nair said. In addition, towing and payload capacities are expected to be improved compared to the 2014 Ford F-150, and Ford claims the truck's ride, handling, and braking will also improve compared to the old truck. On top of that, Nair says that the aluminum bodywork is actually more resistant to rust and dents than the old steel body.
Under the hood, Ford claims that the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 really is new, and not simply a derivative of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost that's already available in today's F-150. The company isn't ready to talk horsepower or torque numbers, but says that the truck's reduced curb weight will improve acceleration with any engine. Although many had speculated Ford would use the F-150 to introduce a new multispeed automatic transmission (perhaps with nine or ten speeds), the new truck continues with a six-speed automatic.
As for whether the experience gained in developing an aluminum pick truck will lead to other aluminum Ford models, Nair is cagey. "We'll obviously be seeing an increased use of advanced materials in all cars," he said before changing the subject.
Despite the use of more high-strength steels and aluminum, Ford does not expect pricing for the 2015 Ford F-150 to drastically increase over the current truck. Nair stresses that it will still be "attainable" and "competitive," although exact stickers prices won't be announced until later this year.