Reuters said Ford will lighten and tweak its F-150 when the next generation of the truck bowsin an effort to regain its fuel efficiency crown in the fiercely competitive half-ton pickup truck segment.
Though the information was unfortunately credited only to “an industry source familiar with the company’s plans,” the article said Ford is expected to try to lighten the F-150 by up to 700 lbs. in an effort to boost fuel economy by up to 20%. That would represent a gain of up to three miles per gallon, the article said. Putting those extra three miles per gallon on the base 3.7-liter V6 engine’s current 23 MPG rating would deliver a 26 MPG highway score from the EPA and allow Ford to edge out Ram’s 25 MPG half-ton pickup.
As reported in a Wall Street Journal piece previously, much of the weight savings are expected to come from extensive use of aluminum body panels. The Reuters piece said FoMoCo may be considering using new axles and other chassis components to further reduce weight. To top off the efficiency-minded weight savings, Ford reportedly is considering a new family of high-effeciency V6 engines that would take advantage of the company’s EcoBoost turbocharging technology and smaller displacement to improve fuel economy figures without sacrificing performance.
In the meantime, while those engines and the rest of the next-gen F-150 are under development, Reuters said Ford will likely launch an eight-speed automatic transmission to compete with Ram’s Torqueflite8 that helps the Ram 1500 get its current class-leading 25 MPG highway. The Ford eight-speed is expected to show up on the options sheet in 2014 or 2015, the piece said.
We’ll be interested in watching how the tweaked F-150 will compete against the updated 2014 Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra twins we told you about earlier.