How Ford is making sure its F150 remains the most popular truck ever

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This article was originally published by Michael Coates on Clean Fleet Report, a publication that gives its readers the information they need to move to cars and trucks with best fuel economy, including electric cars, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and advanced diesel and gasoline engines.

It’s only been five years since the last major redesign of the Ford F-150, not a long time historically in the truck world, but with competition heating up both in the traditional competitors and newcomers, Ford is pushing forward with the introduction of the all-new 2021 F-150, a remake of its best-selling and most lucrative model.

The goal of the introduction this week, hosted by Ford spokesperson Dennis Leary and featuring a variety of Ford employees and F-150 customers, was to show that Ford is well-aware that its industry-leading position (best-selling truck for the past 43 years) is not something assumed, but an achievement to be re-earned every year. The 2021 Ford F-150 has a very simple goal—maintain and expand that market lead for another year or two.

All-new F-150 Limited in Smoked Quartz Tinted Clearcoat.

Highlights of the introduction (some detail below) included the presentation of a new full hybrid model and confirmation that a full-electric version is coming. The other big takeaway is that electrification in a pickup take a significantly different form that in a sedan. In a truck application, the emphasis of a large battery is less on propulsion and zero emission miles than on providing a mobile power source for tools and toys.

Next year’s F-150, which will go on sale this fall, follows the typical pickup mold of offering a dizzying number of options in an attempt to provide a potential pickup for every possible buyer. The completely redesigned truck (every one of the aluminum exterior panel is new) will offer six engines, 13 different wheels and 11 grille options in a half-dozen trim levels.

Fuel economy focus

All-new F-150 Lariat in Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat.

Although no official fuel economy numbers are available, Ford pointed out that it was the most aerodynamic pickup the company has ever designed, employing grille shutters, a new automatically deploying air dam and new cab and tailgate geometry to reduce drag and reduce fuel consumption on all models.

The new hybrid F-150 will use an all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, augmented by a 35-kW/47-horsepower electric motor. A 10-speed transmission and 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery (mounted between the frame rails so it doesn’t take up any passenger or cargo space) complete the powertrain.

The all-electric F-150 will come in 2022, according to Ford COO Jim Farley. When it arrives, it will likely face several competitors, including the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer, Tesla Cybertruck, Lordstown Endeavor, and Nikola Badger.

Electrification on the job

Back to the present, Ford sees electric power as another tool for the job. The 2021 F-150 will come up with up to 7.2 kilowatts (kW) of exportable power, enough to run a generator and a variety of power tools through 120-volt and/or 240-volt outlets.

Available 7.2-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard™ features four 120V 20A outlets and one NEMA L14-30R 240V 30A. The all-new F-150 features more exportable power than any light-duty full-size pickup, giving you the ability to use your truck as a mobile generator. It is available with three levels of electrical output depending on engine choice.

Inside Ford has added a variety of high-tech features that point out how mainstream the modern pickup has become. One clever addition is that, with a few quick shifts of hardware, the center console can become a desk big enough to hold a laptop. Above that center console half of the F-150 lineup will have 12.0-inch touchscreen displays, matching what’s becoming the standard for the segment. The display will come equipped with Sync4, the latest version of Ford’s infotainment system. Ten new advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are going to be available.

Recognizing the variety of uses a truck might undergo, Ford has designed the front seats to recline 180 degrees, so not only is the pickup and office, but also a bedroom. Under the backseat is a lockable storage unit for stashing away valuables or expensive tools.

The most list

What a pickup needs is a most list and Ford has drawn up a long one. The stated goal of the 2021 F-150 is to be able to tow the biggest load in its class, carry the heaviest payload, have the most horsepower and torque and also have the longest range.

Available Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer as easy as turning a knob; the feature continues in the all-new F-150 and it is the only light-duty full-size pickup with this feature.

Don’t expect the competition to take this lying down, but Ford also had other news last week that went well beyond the news about the redesign of its best-selling product. The company laid out a goal of becoming of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 with three areas of focus that account for  95 percent of the companies CO2 emissions:

  • Vehicle use
  • Supply base
  • Facilities

On the vehicle side, it’s putting $11.5 billion through 2022 into the Mustang Mach-E, Transit Commercial and fully electric F-150. It expects all of its manufacturing plants to use 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy by 2035.

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