TPC Ford hybrid: Ford brought along an XL Hybrid conversion E-350 with a Rockport body.

Ford brings another ‘cadence of refresh’

Dec. 8, 2017
Coverage from the recent NTEA Truck Product Conference, a look at the critical details of new and coming-soon equipment from the chassis manufacturers, and what the changes mean for upfitters and truck body builders.

Back in 2014, John Ruppert, Ford’s general manager of

commercial vehicle sales and marketing, stood at the same stage and said that between that moment and 2017, every one of Ford’s commercial vehicles would either be all-new or significantly refreshed and brought to market.

This year, he showed a slide that illustrated the result: the full line of commercial vehicles from Class 1-7.

“At that time, the Transit wasn’t even here,” he said. “We were just launching the new Transit Connect. We didn’t have our F-150. We didn’t have our Super Duty. We’ve done all that in four years.

“But I think the most important thing that I want you to remember is that same cadence of refresh starts next year again. We bring the new Transit Connect, significantly changed, to market next year. And for the next couple of years after that, every one of these products will be touched—for some, in a pretty significant way.”

Ray Eyles, chief program engineer for Ford Transit North America, said Transit Connect cargo vans have revised front side air curtains and metal mesh panels on second-row daylight openings. Passenger wagons have revised full-length side air curtains and high-strength laminate glass in third-row daylight openings.

The Ford Transit expanded for 2018 with new features designed to help make it even more useful on the job. The rearview camera that is standard on the Transit van and passenger wagon moves above the rear doors on medium- and high-roof models for 2018, and will remain next to the license plate on low-roof models.

The full-size Transit van will have a locking glove box as standard equipment, as well as a new rear-door exit handle and rear LED cargo lamp switch.

New optional equipment available for model year 2018 includes: heavy-duty cargo area flooring; heavy-duty rear scuff plate kit; extended-length running boards; push-down manual parking brake; power-folding short-arm heated mirrors with turn signals; AM/FM stereo with audio input jack, microphone, and Bluetooth interface; D-pillar assist handles for medium- and high-roof models; forged alloy dual rear wheel package; and a charcoal leather-trimmed, heated-seat package.

John Scholtes, chief program engineer for commercial products, gave an update on E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis, F-650/F-750 medium duty, and F-53/F-59 stripped chassis.

“Even with the success of the Transit, E-Series cutaways and strip chassis sales are 35,000 year to date, and we expect that number to be over 50,000 units by the end of the year,” he said. “So the E-series is here and will continue to be here for the foreseeable future.”

2018MY E-Series production started in October. Changes for 2018 include:

• Styled bright fixed lens headlamps standard.

• Mid-series Exterior Appearance Package (18D) no longer offered.

• 6.2L and 6.8L engine OBD changes: minor calibration change to address future OBD requirements.

• Motorhome Prep Package on E350 SRW/6.8L/4.56 Axle/ 82 square feet. Frontal area optional.

2018MY F-650/F-750 production started in October. Changes include:

• Electronic Stability Control (ESC) on air brake vehicles. Standard on tractor models. Optional on F-750 non-tractor models. Requires 14K front axle and 13.2K front springs. Not available with trailer tow or two-speed rear axle. Must specify CG of second unit body upfit.

• New options: 240A alternator on gas engines and 3-inch bumper extension.

• Relocated diesel engine and all trans dipsticks to allow for “feet on the ground” access.

• In addition to the 17 existing J1939 signals available in 2017MY, 18 more have been added for 2018.

He said the 2018MY F-59 stripped chassis has a Parcel Delivery Package (PDP) that started production in May and adds the following content: 19.5 x 6.75 white wheels (PDP package); and brake pad wear indicator (PDP package).

All other F53 and F59 content is carryover from 2017MY.

Cathy Fratarcangeli, Super Duty program manager, said the Super Duty chassis cab has an aft-axle frame extension that is available for 19,500 GVWR. A 42.4-inch frame extension increases the axle to end frame dimension to 89.4 inches, and is optional on F-450/F-550 regular cab XL and XLT with 145-inch wheelbase and 60-inch CA. A 32.4-inch frame extension increases the axle to end frame dimension to 79.6 inches, and is optional on F-550 regular cab XL and XLT with 169-inch wheelbase and 84-inch CA.

An Upfitter Interface Module is designed to operate aftermarket-installed equipment with up to nine digital input signals for lift buckets, cranes, salt spreaders, snow plows, and more. It’s factory-installed and laptop programmable. Programming can be saved and replicated across a fleet of Super Duty vehicles.

Bill Chew, special vehicle engineering manager of commercial vehicles, gave some updates on Super Duty Pickup Box Removal:

• Issue: Fast flash (taillights, when replaced w/ LED). Status: Fast flash issue eliminated in production September 27, 2016, for box delete and chassis cabs. Dealer IDS tool updated for box removal vehicles.

• Issue: MS-CAN disconnect-related issues. Status: Jumper harness to reconnect to MS-CAN Network is available from dealers.

• Issue: Blind spot information system (BLIS)

warning message. Status: IDS tool updated to allow dealers to disable BLIS.

On Super Duty DEF tank/lines:

• Issue: DEF tank fitting needs to be 900 in

lieu of ~300 to avoid hose interference with second unit body. Status: New fitting tentatively planned for March 2018 production (to be included w/DEF kit).

• Issue: DEF line close to lower frame flange—line can be crushed during upfit. Status: Use caution when mounting bodies. Ref. Q-271 DEF line re-routing tentatively planned for March 2018 production.

• Issue: Difficult to install DEF hose on fill cup. Status: QVM 260 recommends use of 50/50 alcohol/water solution or lubricant. Engineering releasing wider inside diameter hose (tentatively planned for January 2018 production).

• Issue: Need new jumper harness to allow for relocation of DEF tank from inboard to outboard location. Status: Jumper harness now available in dealer service (Ref. Q-267 for key service part numbers required).

On Super Duty electrical:

• Issue: Dual to single alternator conversions—illuminated charging light/warning message. Status: IDS tool updated to allow dealers to re-configure alternator configuration on vehicle.

• Issue: Reverse camera does not function when upfitter purchases Ford camera kit from dealer. Status: IDS tool updated to allow dealers to turn camera on for vehicles ordered w/o reverse camera kit. Vehicle must have 4” or 8” monitor.

• Issue: Installation of Ford Trailer Brake Controller on vehicles not equipped. “Trailer attached” message on instrument cluster. Status: Service kit available to install TBC (vehicle must have trailer package). Caused by use of trailer tow circuits on vehicles for second unit body lighting. IDS tool update to dealers by late September to disable.

• Issue: No CHMSL circuit available end of frame. CHMSL circuit available on all Super Duties at Job #1, 2018.

• Issue: Separation of stop/turn signals. Status: BCM must be reconfigured using dealer IDS tool from combined stop/turn to turn only.

He said the under-hood battery location was changed with the new MY17 Super Duty. Aftermarket electrical equipment involving B+ power must not

contact the hood; maintain minimum 15 mm to the underside of the hood when closed.

He said the high-spec interface connector is a 43-way connector that provides access to vehicle signals. It’s located behind the glove box, with a mating connector included. Details are provided in the Body Equipment Mounting Manual (BEMM).

Chew said that on applications with a fully sealed body on the Transit Cutaway, a minimum 23.3-square-inch air extraction area on each side of the vehicle cab is recommended for windshield defogging performance and improved door-closing efforts.

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About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.