Ford Beefs Up Super-Duty Offerings

FORD introduced the newly designed F-650/750 to body builders during the NTEA convention held in Indianapolis. Ford's cab and chassis seminar was fully attended by upfitters looking to gain the latest news about the Super Duty line and when the new F-650/750 trucks will arrive at their local dealers.

Ford addressed customer requested product changes and planned upgrades for the entire line of Super Duty products, including ride height, fuel capacity, and rear sag issues.

Medium Goes Mainstream

Lorena Starcher, western regional vocational truck manager, provided insight into the new F-650/750 by discussing Ford's marketing and production plans. "This medium truck will go into the mainstream of Ford. The Super Duty F-650/750 has been integrated into the full range of Ford's mainstream systems, including ordering, scheduling, manufacturing, and all other systems."

"This new product is aimed squarely at vocational applications. Target vocations include van, dump, service, utility, and platform," said Starcher. Ford believes the individual and small fleet owner represents 75% of the vocational market.

Ford Adds Versatility

Product versatility is a key ingredient of the Ford F-650/750 marketing formula. Offering the medium-duty F-650/750 in different production cab styles and componentry configurations engineered for the vocational truck buyers ensures Ford's successful marketing of the truck, Starcher said.

In keeping standard with the entire Super Duty line of cab configurations, the F-650/750 will be offered in regular, extended, and four-door crew cabs with two trim levels. Ford personnel believe that a production four-door crew-cab will address a growing part of the vocational buyers market.

"What's really exciting about this product is the availability of three engine families," Starcher said. "Available for the F-650 and F-750 are the Cummins 5.9L ISB, the CAT 3126B, or the Power Stroke 7.3L, and these engines are electronically controlled."

Ford is providing an extensive line of transmissions to entice vocational users. Manual transmissions include the Eaton FS series in five and six speed models in an 'A' ratio for straight truck applications. All FS transmissions have aluminum housings and provisions for right- or left- side PTO mounting.

On the option list is the Spicer seven-speed ES52-7B, a direct drive transmission and the ES066-7B, an overdrive seven speed. Both have right or left PTO provisions that should make PTO installation a bit more flexible.

Allison automatic transmissions are designated for F-650/750 usage, including the Allison AT-545 four speed, Allison MD-3050CR five speed close-ratio, and Allison MD-3560WR six speed wide-ratio.

The AT-545 is a general-purpose transmission with a converter-driven PTO system. Close-ratio transmissions such as the MD-3050 are well suited for usage on paved streets and highways, and the Allison MD-3560 is a wide-ratio transmission that has generally been accepted in applications requiring higher tractive effort at slower speeds. Both MD models offer a standard PTO provision.

Standard brakes on the new F-650/750 are hydraulic four-wheel disc brakes with a driveline parking brake. Air brakes are optional. The air brake package will include automatic slack adjusters, dust shields, and air parking brake. Ford has designed the air tank system to be upfit-friendly for easier body installation. Four-channel antilock brake systems are standard on both air and hydraulic.

In the F-650/750 regular-cab configuration, Ford will provide 84", 108", 120", 156", and 186" cab-to-axle measurements. Extended cab wheelbase availability of 179", 215", and 260" provides CA dimensions of 84", 120", and 165" respectively. The crew cab will offer a choice of 194", 230" and 260" wheelbase and CA dimensions of 84", 120", and 150".

Optional GVWs of the new F-650/750 are 26,000, 30,000, and 33,000-lb.

Super Duty Family Refinements

"One of our objectives has been to continually improve," said marketing manager Tom Cavanaugh. Some additional enhancements to the Super Duty product include re-instatement of the 108" CA on regular cab F-450/550 models. Ford will produce an 84" CA for crew cab F-450/550 models, and an 84"CA for the 19,000-lb F-550 in the regular-cab configuration.

Ford will offer a gross combination weight option of 30,000-lb for the F-550. This is aimed at recreational vehicle users that intend to tow a camper. However, the F-550 will retain the optional 26,000-lb GVW for non-CDL applications.

NTEA members continued to question Ford's mid-ship fuel tank capacity. Currently cab and chassis are available with the 19-gallon driver side tank. This has not been a workable option for Ford customers in many cases because of capacity limitations, Cavanaugh said.

Under an option enhancement date of May 31, 1999, if a 19-gallon mid-ship tank is requested, an additional 23-gallon curbside, mid-ship tank can be ordered as an option. This is an outside of frame-rail tank with curbside fill, which is only available for diesel engines.

Ford fuel engineers also added four extra gallons of capacity to F-350 through F-550 aft tanks. The new tank will have a 40-gallon capacity, rear fill.

Cavanaugh said ride height adjustments will be made to F-250/350, 4X4 products to address issues concerning fifth wheel and gooseneck towing. In June 1998, a technical service bulletin was issued to assist dealers and customers with ride-height concerns. The bulletin allows dealers to remove leaf spacers on 4X4 single rear-wheel trucks if certain conditions are met. Contact a Ford dealer for specifics.

Ford additionally lowered the ride height by two inches on newly manufactured Super Duty F-250 and F-350 4X4 trucks as of February 15.

NTEA members questioned Ford about rear sag on F-550 trucks, particularly in tow truck and outboard crane mount applications. Ford engineers say they are performing some evaluative studies on the subject. Ride height for F-450 and F-550 models built specifically for ambulance service is a concern for both NTEA members and Ford.

Ford will improve the 5.4L and 6.8L engines by adding 15 horsepower compared with 1999 specifications to help users that want more power.

Ford will add working telescopic mirrors on Super Duty chassis. This option is designed to provide a better field-of-view for wide van body installations.

Other Product Enhancements

Bucket seats are planned for the XL model. These seats could provide additional space for the installation of console file holders or working platforms between driver and passenger.

Effective March 1, Ford will upgrade the chassis capability of 20 snowplow truck models. Ford will offer more snowplow options on chassis cabs, and will offer a snowplow option on the F-150 Super Cab model.

Also on the horizon will be a duel alternator option planned for model year 2000. "This will greatly assist some of the ambulance and emergency vehicle people," Cananaugh said.

Further options for MY 2000 include a 4.88 limited-slip rear axle. Ford engineers said that the limited-slip option was requested by a substantial number of Ford customers.

Cavanaugh addressed the spare tire issue that has plagued some Ford dealers. Ford realizes that some new customers are buying the F-250 and F-350 models for personal driving enjoyment. In some cases they are upset because a spare tire is not standard equipment on the truck. Ford announced it would now ship with the spare tire and tire mounting system as standard equipment on F-250/350 pickup styles.

Possible Model Cuts

Reviewing industry needs, Cavanaugh said that Ford might drop the single-rear-wheel, cab and chassis F-350 product. He asked NTEA members if they see a demand for the product.

Ford wants feedback from body builders about industry needs for this cab and chassis. Reply to: Chris Samfilippo, ALPHA-OMEGA CO, 21411 Civic Center Dr, Suite 309, Southfield, MI, 48076 GM Product-NTEA

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