DEARBORN, MI. Ford Motor Co. proudly claims it sells more commercial vehicles than any OEM in North America. To maintain that dominance, the company must always be innovating and expanding its lineup to match the needs of commercial customers. And that includes the new gasoline engine Ford offers in its F-650 vehicle.
“Probably the most [important] factor to our success is the breadth of our lineup. It spans Class 1 to Class 7,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president-global product development.
And it was that lineup that Ford put on display last week during a special media event at its Dearborn headquarters.
Ford touted its vehicles, from Class 1 vans to the Class 7 F-750, but the real news came in the form of the savings available for customers purchasing its Class 6 F-650. The F-650, previously only available with a diesel option, now has an optional Ford 6.8L three-valve V10 gas engine producing 362 hp. and 457 lbs-ft. of torque.
Choosing the gas engine provides a savings of $8,300 over the diesel option and creates a more cost-friendly option for customers, said Ford.
“It’s really intended for the guy looking for a lower-cost entry into the Class 6 market,” said Rob Stevens, chief engineer, commercial truck, adding that the vehicle is also compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane compatible with a gross vehicle weight of up to 37,000 lbs.
Ford has coupled the gas engine with a proprietary 6R410 6-spd. transmission with double overdrive gears for improved fuel economy.
But the gas engine is but one solution in Ford’s commercial lineup, which includes vehicles powered by flex fuel (E85), biodiesel, CNG, liquid propane, hybrid, battery electric, gas and diesel.
“Even two plumbers doing the same business have different needs so we need to be able to meet those demands,” said Len DeLuca, director, commercial vehicles. DeLuca said he expects the commercial market to grow about 17% this year. Ford has logged more than 232,000 commercial sales year to date, he added, with F-650 and F-750 business up over 62% this year.
“I would anticipate that we will be above 48 to 50% of the share of the [total commercial] market by the end of 2011,” DeLuca said.
Ford noted that the company sells six of the top 10 commercial vehicles in the U.S, led by the Ford E-Series van, which holds 53% of the market, DeLuca said.
Part of the media event in Dearborn was to showcase the new Ford Transit van, expected to replace the E-Series in the coming years. The Transit will begin production in 2013, although Ford noted that the E-Series will continue to be built before being phased out before the end of the decade.
According to Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager, Ford is working with Azure Dynamics on hybrid electric powertrains, including those available on the E-450 stripped chassis, van and shuttle buses, and the Transit Connect Electric. Azure is also developing an F-550 hybrid bucket truck, Koss said.
“There isn’t any one solution. You have to be able to meet a 500-piece puzzle,” said Rob Stevens, chief engineer, commercial truck.
Among the commercial vehicles Ford had on display was the popular F-150. Powered by either a 6.2L V8 or a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 that is rated at up to 22 mpg on the highway, the pickup is able to tow up to 11,300 lbs. Ford expects to sell 100,000 F-150s with the EcoBoost engine this year.
EcoBoost engines offer direct injection and turbo charging technology and are offered in Ford’s next-generation Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicles as well. The new police models are replacing the iconic Crown Victoria, which ceased production in August. Both the Ford Police Interceptor sedan and utility are capable of operating on E85.
The entire Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck and chassis cab lineup is available with conventional, diesel, biodiesel B20 and CNG/LPG-dedicated or bi-fuel capability, while Ford F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks can be optioned for biodiesel or CNG/LPG operation. In addition to biodiesel and CNG/LPG offerings, the 6.2L V8 can also be operated on E85.
The Transit Connect small van is available with either conventional, CNG or a battery electric drive system that has a range of 80 mi. with zero emissions.
E-Series full-size vans and cutaways can be optioned with flex fuel or CNG/LPG gaseous engine prep package fuel systems, or with a hybrid system from a Ford upfit partner.
Ford has also introduced its next generation limo/livery vehicle in Lincoln MKT Town Car. The car offers a higher roofline, roomier, more sophisticated seating, a spacious trunk plus even easier passenger entry and exit.