Ford Stays Application-Focused with Super-Duty F-Series

Nov. 1, 2000
Ford's engineering mustangs are running freely at corporate headquarters as they continue to improve the Super-Duty Ford series. "Ford commercial trucks

Ford's engineering mustangs are running freely at corporate headquarters as they continue to improve the Super-Duty Ford series. "Ford commercial trucks will continue to dominate the commercial work truck environment," said Gurminder Bedi, vice president of Ford's commercial truck vehicle center. "We will continue to improve our commercial truck line - which, by the way, is outselling our closest competitor by approximately a two-to-one margin." Bedi made the comments during the NTEA's Fall Truck Product Conference in Dearborn, Michigan, September 18-20.

Ford's plan is to further expand its market share in the commercial truck segments by continuing the process of product enhancements. Ford has expanded the new Super-Duty Series into the light- and medium-duty work truck markets. Now, Ford will pursue more vocationally specific target markets.

Commodity Shortages "All of you have been aware of some commodity shortages," said Tom Cavanaugh, Super-Duty marketing manager. "These include gas engines, automatic transmissions, and 4X4 platform set-ups."

Cavanaugh said that supply of these components will continue to be tight; nevertheless, the supply problems should ease as the model year production continues.

"In 1999, we increased the Super-Duty production to 65 jobs-per-hour, which translates into some 370,000 model units," said Cavanaugh. "That will again increase as we increase Cuautilan, Mexico's production." Overall, Ford expects to increase the platform production of Super-Dutys by approximately 50,000 units for the upcoming model year."

Commercial Product Enhancements Because of the request from body builders and upfitters, Ford will introduce the 108-inch cab-to-axle product for the F-450/550 regular cab models, Cavanaugh said. Factory manufactured crew-cabs, which have been a great success for Ford according to Cavanaugh, will get an 84-inch cab-to-axle on the F-450/550 models.

Across the Super-Duty product range, the 7.3L diesel will receive a horsepower boost from 230 hp to 250 hp in the automatic transmission application. For the manual transmission application, the power ratings will change from 250 hp to 270 hp.

Axle ratios will also see some changes in the upcoming model year, according to Cavanaugh. A 4.3-ratio will be introduced into the F-450 model, for use with the 5.4L California model. A limited-slip 3.73-ratio will be introduced for use with the 5.4L gas engine on all applicable models.

Along with the axle ratio changes, Ford has revamped the transmission offerings in the Super-Duty product line. The 5.4L and 6.8L will drop the five-speed manual ZF and move to a six-speed.

The Super-Duty F-350 gained a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) boost to 11,500 GVWR from 11,200 GVWR. The GVWR increase will also positively affect the maximum conventional and fifthwheel towing capacities. A rear-air suspension option will also be offered on F-450/550 chassis cabs.

Specific to the F-550, the 26,000 GVWR will be retained; however, a new 30,000 GVWR will be added to the model's capabilities profile.

For F-450/550 chassis cabs, Ford offers a 59-gallon optional tank for applications requiring extra fuel-carrying capacity.

Jeweled-styled headlights will be installed into the F-250/350 for the 2001 model year. "We are adding some retailing enhancements that our dealers have requested, including the mid-year addition of the spare tire and carrier to these models," said Cavanaugh.

Some of the new options and accessories include:

- Forward folding mirrors.

- Reverse vehicle aid sensor.

- Six CD-disk changer.

- Adjustable brake-height pedal.

- Power windows and locks for fleet application only, on fleet trim.

- Integrated restraints on bench seat for crew-cab rear.

- Heated seats.

- New style 40/20/40 seating option.

- Graphite interior trim color added to Lariat package.

The Big Mediums The F-650/750s continue to grow in their platform capabilities. "The 24,000 and 26,000 GVW ratings are growing in popularity," said Dave Bardsley, Super-Duty F-650/750 brand manager. "That's a focal area that we are going to expand, and take gain in even more market share."

Bardsley reported that Ford saw 12% of the F-650/750 product being ordered in the super-cab configuration in August. He also said that another 11% of the F-650/750 product was ordered in a crew-cab configuration. "That's due to the people in this room who are designing and building for those configurations."

Bardsley said that the new options for 2001 on the F-650/750 platform will be:

- Front PTO availability.

- Stationary grille configuration.

- A huckbolted 24" front-frame extension that extends from the front hanger-bracket.

- Passenger seat delete.

- Lower axle ratio for faster highway applications.

- A factory-installed truck-trailer package.

E-Series Gets a Travel Package "We're bringing some product improvements to the E-series line that we know you folks want," said Larry Cooper, chief program engineer for the E-series product. "Many of these options and product upgrades have come on the heels of the information that you provided."

Cooper said that school bus and ambulance applications as well as vans used for recreational vehicles received many of the product upgrade enhancements. He cited needs for more power from the gas engines, better seating options, and higher electrical amperage demands as focal areas for the Ford van engineering team to improve. Those improvements will be brought into the new model year as production starts.

New options and improvements for the E-series include:

- Leather seating for Traveler package.

- 5.4L gas engine enhancements for yellow bus applications.

- Horsepower improvement on 4.6L gas engine of 215 hp from 205 hp.

- Alternator upgrade with high-amperage/low-rev capability.

- Option for inboard arm rest in captain chairs.

- Rear step bumper as standard content.

- Passenger seat, underseat storage option.

- Blackened rocker and wheel-well panels.

- Added Light Parchment as interior color option.

- Deleted Denim interior color option.

- Auxiliary idle control added for ambulance application.

- A rear AC package.

Future product improvements for the van may include foot tap-option for the parking brake release, said Cooper.

PTO and Power Transmission Needs "We have developed a PTO duty cycle chart for the use of body builders and upfitters," said Bill Chew, PTO-PTA Ford program activity team member. "We've also developed some PTO mounting equipment for the 4R100 transmission that will give upfitters more applications that they can make the truck job-ready for."

New for the upcoming model year:

- PTO access controls for the F-650/750.

- PTO option for the 4R100 for applications over 8,500 GVWR, with dealer available hardware.

Paul Troy, 4R100 transmission team manager, discussed the new upgrades for the 4R100 transmission. "We have the PTO option for the F-series above 8,500 GVWR coupled with the 4R100. This will provide us with more access to the vocational markets that we will focus on as part of our Super-Duty marketing plan."

Troy also said that the 4R100 has been given an upgraded converter friction material, Dynax 531.

Another improvement to Ford's flagship transmission, the 4R100, is the reprogramming of shift duration time and shift change-values.

Alternative Options Ken Forbes introduced the new alternative fuels options that Ford has been working on. "Changes and needs coming to the marketplace will allow us to be in a strong position to lead in the acceptance of alternative fuels - because they will get the job done."

New alternative fuel vehicle choices include the E-series cut-a-way van. The E-series can be ordered as a Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV), into the E-450 range. The 5.4L Triton engine for this application will contain higher strength valve seats, along with several other internal strengthening components to make the engine better suited for the NGV application.

Ford also announced the F-350/450/550 bifuel chassis cab option. The dual rear wheel style will be certified as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ELEV).

Ford engineering and the alternative fuels group can assist body builders and upfitters that have any problem with the underside mid-ship fuel cells that might interfere with wheel chair lifts, Forbes said.

About the Author

John Nahas