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Ford Betting on Aluminum with Next-Gen F-Series

Maker reportedly looking for massive weight reduction.

by on Jul.27, 2012

Ford reportedly plans to go "aluminum-intensive" to cut 700 pounds off the weight of the replacement for the current F-Series.

Pickup truck buyers are a stubborn lot, or so goes the conventional wisdom.  What matters is payload and towing capacity, all else be damned.

But recent trends suggest that’s not necessarily the case.  The latest generation of full-size trucks now offer the sort of high-tech, high-touch features you might expect in a luxury car.  And, perhaps most shockingly, Ford Motor Co. is now selling more than half of its F-Series pickups equipped with V-6s, rather than the classic, heavy-hauling V-8.

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But the Detroit maker could take things are big step further when it launches the next generation of what has been, for more than a quarter-century, America’s best-selling automotive line.  The upcoming remake of the F-Series will reportedly make a major shift away from steel to aluminum in a bid to shave as much as 700 pounds off the big truck’s hefty girth.

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Tough, Sure, but Work Truck Buyers also Demanding Luxury Touches

Ford adds Sync, leather seats and other amenities to 2013 F-Series Super Duty pickup.

by on Mar.09, 2012

The 2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty Platinum.

Watch any manly-man TV show and you’re certain to see the commercials featuring manly men doing tough guy stuff with their pickups, hauling trailers, building roads, blasting mountains into piles of rubble.  No wonder makers such as Ford like to talk about horsepower, towing capacity and other measures of brute power.

But, it seems, those truck powers are more like the rest of the world in also wanting plenty of creature comforts, the sort of things you might measure by the number of speakers or the wattage of the amp.

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No wonder, then, that Ford says it will make its toughest work trucks decidedly more luxurious and comfortable, adding such niceties as Sync, MyFordTouch, leather and 10-way power seats to its 2013 F-Series Super Duty line-up.

Notably, the Deroit maker is adding an all-new Platinum Series model to the 2013 Super Duty range.

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Ford Ranger Plant Ready to Close

Last compact pickup rolls off the line this week.

by on Dec.13, 2011

Production of the long-lived Ford Ranger is finally coming to an end.

The auto industry is back and providing one of the few sources of new jobs in an otherwise struggling U.S. economy.  Or so one might believe in most parts of the country.  Just don’t try to convince the workers at Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

The maker hasn’t set a specific time yet but sometime around Friday it is expected that the last Ford Ranger will roll down the assembly line and the 86-year-old plant, located just outside Minneapolis, will finally shut down.

Though Ford has added thousands of jobs since the depths of the recession and promised to add thousands more as part of its new contract with the United Auto Workers Union about 800 union workers will be idled by the Twin Cities shutdown unless they can find a way to transfer to some other plant in the Ford network.

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The creaky old factory has actually lasted far longer than most of its workers had anticipated.  A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that rumors of the factories demise were already circulating by 1949, shortly after the plant was converted back from war production.

“It looks like (they were) right, but it took Ford quite a while to finally get around to it,” the paper quoted 80-year old former autoworker Del Peterson.

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All-New Ranger Debuting – But Not In U.S.

Ford’s Kuzak sees V6 F-150 as American alternative.

by on Sep.20, 2010

A first teaser shot of the Ford Ranger grille. The pickup debuts in Australia next month.

Ford is rolling out an all-new Ranger but if you want one in the U.S. or Canada, you’re out of luck.

“There are no plans for that at this time,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of global product development.

The redesigned Ranger, which has only been seen hidden by camouflage, will debut October 15 at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The small hauler will be sold in 180 countries.

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“The new Ranger is our global compact pickup truck that serves the world,” Kuzak said. “It’s an all-new truck with new powertrains that promise truck leadership in markets outside of North America.”

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Ford Updating Entire F-Series Powertrain Line-up for 2011

Maker promising 20% reduction in fuel consumption with new engine line.

by on Aug.11, 2010

The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is expected to produce as much torque -- and deliver the same towing capacity -- as Ford's big 6.2-liter V8.

While design, creature comfort and packaging all play a role in differentiating one pickup model from another, perhaps nothing has more impact than powertrain.  And for 2011, Ford Motor Co. will complete update the engine and transmission options offered for its best-selling F-Series.

For the upcoming model-year, Ford will launch four new powertrains, including a compact, high-mileage V6, a pair of V8s and the newest member of its expanding, high-tech EcoBoost line-up.  Collectively, the maker claims the typical 2011 F-Series model will get about 20% better mileage than the 2010 pick-up line, despite big improvements in power, torque and towing capacity.

“Fuel economy,” explained Doug Scott, marketing manager for Ford’s Truck Group, “is building in importance with the consumer,” as much with pickups as with compact passenger cars.

Ford research shows that 70% of pickup buyers are demanding better fuel economy, and 32% say they are willing to switch brands to get higher mileage.

A major reason why Ford anticipates the big jump in 2011 F-Series fuel efficiency is the introduction of the all-new 3.7-liter V6, a four-valve DOHC package that will put out the type of numbers that only a V8 could match until recently.  It will make 300 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, and handle up to 6,100 trailer loads – the best in its segment according to competitive data.

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At the other end of the spectrum is the new 6.2-liter V8 that Ford just yesterday announced will go into its newly-updated 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150 truck.  (Click Here for more.) A hefty SOHC design, this is “more of a traditional truck engine,” according to Mike Harrison, Ford’s V8 engine manager.

Turning out 411 hp and 434 lb-ft, the 6.2-liter engine will also be offered as standard equipment in the high-style 2011 Ford SVT Raptor, and as an option in other F-150 models.  It also delivers segment-leading towing capacity of 11,300 pounds, according to Harrison.

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Ford To Beef Up F-Series Super Duty

More torque, horsepower could allow pickup to regain lead, recovering from previous Navistar engine quality problems.

by on Aug.03, 2010

With a big bump in performance, the 2011 Ford Super Duty is now the full-size torque king-of-the-hill.

Ford hopes its Super Duty pickup will soon regain king-of-the-hill status with a hefty boost in performance that it will put into production later this week.

But the added performance will be matched with improved fuel economy, the maker’s powertrain chief, Barb Samardzich told a gathering of industry leaders, in Traverse City, Michigan, today.

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Meanwhile, in a highly unusual move, the executive revealed that as part of a new customer loyalty program, Ford will upgrade the horsepower and torque for those who have already purchased a 2011 Super Duty diesel pickup.

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10 Reasons Ford Should Keep Ranger

Compact pickup still a strong seller.

by on May.17, 2010

It may be ancient, by automotive terms, but the 2010 Ford Ranger is still a solid seller.

It’s one of the oldest vehicles in the domestic fleet, regardless of manufacturer, and hasn’t gotten any significant mechanical update since 2001.   It won’t meet upcoming changes to U.S. automotive safety standards.  And, so far, there are no plans to bring it into the modern era.  It would only seem like common sense for Ford to abandon the compact Ranger pickup, as planned, next year.

But there are plenty of reasons why the Detroit maker should keep the truck alive.  Just look at the sales charts.

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Our occasional contributor – and PickupTrucks.com publisher – Mike Levine calls to our attention the fact that despite its age, in a market where newer is normally better, the Ford Ranger is still a strong contender, and not just in its narrow market segment.

Last month, the automaker sold 5,220 copies of the pickup, while year-to-date Ranger sales ran 17,514 through April 30th.

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