Ford prepares to roll out new F-150

THE F-Series has been the best-selling truck in America for the past 26 years and undoubtedly is the most important product in Ford's line, accounting for one of every four vehicles Ford sells.

And so there is a natural fascination with the all-new 2004 F-150, which represents the first styling overhaul of the F-150 since it was softened significantly for 1997. It features a new 300-hp engine, three all-new cabs, five different versions of a radical new interior, and an entirely new chassis.

Anticipating a launch in August, Ford held measuring sessions May 8 in Dearborn, Michigan, for toolbox, ladder-rack, and snowplow manufacturers. The addition of snowplow manufacturers was significant in that previously, a snowplow couldn't be added to the F-150 because the weight of the plow exceeded front-axle capacity.

Limiting applications for commercial truck equipment is the fact that there is no pickup box removal for the F-150.

Other product news from The Work Truck Show:

  • The F-650 and F-750 launch is at the new state-of-the-art Escobedo Assembly Plant in Monterrey, Mexico, designed and built as a lean manufacturing facility.

    Job #1 was December 9, 2002, followed by a batch-and-hold system, then an OK-to-ship meeting February 11. Full ramp-up was complete by May 1.

    By March 3, over 1000 trucks were built and 700 shipped. Generally, Caterpillar-equipped regular and super cab models were the first designed OK-to-ship. Trucks equipped with Powerstroke engines were designated OK-to-ship at the end of February. Because there was so much content to prove out in so little time, Ford had to stagger the launch.

    The crew cab started production at the end of April, with a Cummins I-6 ISB in all variations, Cat 3126 250-hp with MD transmission, air-actuated park system, in-plant PDI option, high CG handling package, and two-speed rear axles with hydraulic brakes.

    Added feature timing for the third quarter includes Cat ACERT program (Cat 230/520 engine rating, beverage utility exhaust package for Cat, LH exhaust with Cat and Super Cab), ProLoader with kickup frame, air ride passenger seat, and 10-speed transmission with clutch brake.

    Added feature timing for the fourth quarter includes 13,200-lb front axle, clean CA battery box, cruise-control switches moved to steering wheel (air horn relocated to dash switch), and manual circuit breakers.

  • E-Series marketing manager Mark Zolna said sales of cutaways are up 20%.

    Major changes include Job #1 on September 15 for all gas engines and Job #1 on December 1 for 6.0L diesel engines. The 7.3L diesel production will not be available between Sept. 15 and Dec. 1.

    Gas engine Job #1 includes: 4.6L replaces the 4.2L V6 for all applications; modified 4.6L/5.4L and 6.8L 2V engines (including LEVII and ORVR); electronic returnless fuel system; and improved NVH package.

    Other major changes: 124" wheel base strip chassis deleted; transit fuel tank option deleted on all models; modified restraint system (Restraint Control Module, modified driver, and passenger air bags); Remote Keyless Entry available on cutaways (Job#1 added starter); new instrument cluster with SCP protocol for applications (added fuel cap off door ajar warning); power trailer mirrors available on cutaways, with ambulance prep package.

    Measuring sessions for the 2004 E-Series with 6.0L diesel are planned for August or September, possibly in connection with the National Truck Equipment Association Fall Product Conference.

  • Mark Grueber, product marketing manager for Super Duty Trucks, said the Powerstroke Powertrain will be new for 2003 Super Duty Trucks, with 6.0L V8 diesel engine and five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission.

He said it has: best-in-class towing capability with driver selected tow-haul feature (40% gradability improvement and grade braking); improved drivability (20% better than 7.3L at 0-60 mph, 15% better at 5-20 mph); improved fuel economy (10% over 7.3L); improved durability (250,000 miles) and reliability; refined noise and vibration characteristics; improved serviceability; and cleaner emissions.

The 6.0L V8 is a direct injected diesel engine with 90-degree bank angle, OHV with four valves per cylinder, turbocharged/charge air cooled, cast iron block and cylinder heads, stamped-damped steel oil pan, dramatic power and torque increases over 7.3L V8, and electronic variable response turbocharger (variable position turbine blades, aggressive low-end torque, reduced turbocharger lag, efficient performance over operation range, and improved operation at altitude).

The five-speed automatic transmission has upgraded transmission/PTO power flow for improved reliability (15% lighter than competitive transmission and increased cooler flow capacity of 127%) and has gone through more demanding transmission design verification tests, with transmission key-life test hours extended by 70% and maximum test towing load increased by 120%.

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