Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Honey, I Shrunk the Pickup: More on Ford's future plans for two sub-F-150 models
Ford plans two sub-F-150 pickups
By Mike Connor
Ford is working on two new, smaller-than-F-150 pickup trucks, one based on the F-Series and the other a replacement for the aged Ranger compact, which is unchanged, save for facelifts, since the 1998 model year.
The smaller F-150 is codenamed P525 and may be badged F-100, the name of the F-150's predecessor from the 1950s. At one point, P525 and the Ranger replacement were competing proposals, but with growing need for higher-fuel-mileage trucks, both projects will become reality in 2010 or 2011. The P525 won't be offered with V-8 power, but instead will come with four-cylinder and V-6 EcoBoost (gas direct injection and turbocharging) options, the engines' fuel economy and torque optimized for interim Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards expected to kick in for the 2011model year.
The Ranger replacement, codenamed T6, is being developed by Ford Australia and was originally intended only for world markets other than the U.S. That Dearborn is reconsidering the plan suggests the company thinks high gas prices are definitely here to stay.
Because the current Ranger's Twin Cities plant will be closed in 2009, the 2011 model year could go missing if its replacement, known as the global Ranger, isn't ready earlier than the 2011 calendar year. The T6 will be built in Thailand, but the "chicken tax" will keep Ford from importing them from that country. Instead, they could be imported from South Africa (a right-hand-drive market), which has special trade agreements with the U.S., or possibly Mexico. The T6 could even be built in Australia, which is exempt from the chicken tax.
The 2010-2011 calendar years will be busy for Ford Motor Company, which partially explains why the automaker sold off Aston Martin and Jaguar/Land Rover-for product development cash. That's the same time frame as the launch of the next-generation Fusion and the converged C-segment car (Focus). As for the F-150, it could converge with the heavy-duty versions. Its product cycle should revert back to six-years-plus, from the current five. The upcoming F-150, meanwhile, will also get a version of the EcoBoost V-6, probably by 2010, to increase Ford's truck CAFE number.
Is America ready to downsize its pickup trucks? If $4 per gallon gas forces us into smaller cars, why not smaller, lower-powered pickups with full-size truck beds and near-full-size utility?
Posted by Pw3680 at 2:40 AM