Ford enters fast-growing LCF market

WITH THE ADDITION of the LCF-45 and LCF-55, Ford makes its entry into the low cab forward segment.

Ford LCF features high maneuverability, a strong standard frame, and a V-6 diesel. The new Ford LCF is designed to strengthen Ford's position in a key segment that grew sharply in the United States last year.

“The low cab forward segment in particular is one of the fastest-growing niches in the commercial truck industry. Sales are up almost 50% over the past decade,” said Joe Castelli, Ford Division Commercial Truck director.

The current Class 3-5 cab forward segment comprises annual sales of approximately 24,000 units — with projections showing growth to 40,000 units by 2010. In addition, research shows that tilt-cab customers are extremely loyal — 76% of tilt cab customers' second choice is another tilt cab.

Overall, Ford is selling nearly 325,000 commercial trucks a year. The company plans to grow its commercial truck business in every segment in which it competes.

“We know that one truck doesn't fit all our customers in this market,” says Castelli. “We're committed to being the industry's leading full-line commercial truck provider.”

The Power Stroke 4.5-liter V-6 diesel engine generates 200 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with Ford's proven TorqShift five-speed electronic automatic transmission.

The standard powertrain also features the Tow-Haul mode to help when drivers tow loads up and down steep grades. Going uphill, the powertrain controller automatically adjusts the shift points to keep the engine in its maximum power zone with no gear hunting. Downhill, a tap on the brakes automatically downshifts the transmission to help slow the vehicle. An optional power take-off provision also is available to run specialized equipment.

A “Built Ford Tough” chassis is based on a proven Ford Super Duty chassis to meet North American needs. The Ford LCF frame is the segment's strongest standard frame, with cross-members joined by segment-exclusive Huck bolts for the highest assembly integrity and longevity.

Axle-to-Frame (AF) choices are compatible with the industry-leading chassis cab — the Ford F-350 to F-550 Super Duty. With four AF choices, five Cab-to-Axle (CA) options, and five wheelbase lengths, the range of Ford LCF configurations fits many vocational second-unit bodies, including multi-length van and dump truck units, along with stake trucks, tow trucks, and utility vehicles.

For reduced downtime, available fuel capacities are the largest in the segment, including the standard 40-gallon tank located rear of the axle and between the frame rails, an optional 35-gallon side-mounted tank, or dual side tanks with a capacity of 70 gallons.

Along with package efficiency, the Ford LCF provides a large glass area and outstanding lines of sight.

The Ford LCF is being developed as part of the Blue Diamond joint venture (JV) and will be assembled at the joint venture's Escobedo, Mexico, facility. The joint venture was formed in February 2001 to build a variety of commercial trucks to be marketed and serviced separately by Ford and its JV associate.

Ford also has made exterior styling changes to its Ranger line of pickups, with the guts of the truck remaining as is. The F-150 will see a range of new options, such as those showcased during the rollout of the 2006 specialty Harley-Davidson F-150, which has a new 5.4L, 3-valve Triton V8 gasoline engine with 300 hp at 5000 rpm and 365 lb-ft torque at 3750 rpm. Configuration choices are 4×2 or a new all-wheel-drive (AWD) system — a first for the F-150, according to Ford. The AWD system continuously monitors wheel speed and throttle position to determine the appropriate amount of power to send to the front of the truck to help prevent slip.

In the heavy-duty segment, the new F-Series Ford Super Duty offers dual rear-wheel tires and Ford's exclusive TowCommand system, the only available factory-installed integrated trailer brake controller.

The dual-rear-wheel configuration provides maximum payload of 5800 lb and GVWR of 13,000 lb, along with fifthwheel towing capacity of 19,200 lb. Ford's TorqShift 5-spoke automatic transmission, standard on the new Super Duty, is designed to complement the torque generated by the optional PowerStroke Turbo Diesel engine built by International Truck & Engine Corp exclusively for Ford.

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