Ford Motor Co., which leads the market for medium-duty vocational construction trucks, is bringing production of the F-650/750 back to the U.S. for 2016 and vertically integrating the powertrain and chassis for improved performance, ride and comfort.
"What we are going to do with this truck is really going to shake up the segment," says Todd Kaufman, F-Series chassis-cab marketing manager.
Buyers of medium-duty trucks must often piece together a vehicle from a variety of sources. This hinders the chassis-builder's ability to control the overall performance and driving experience.
"That system approach doesn't lend itself to refinement and what I call 'automotive quiet," Kaufman says. The piecemeal approach also makes servicing trucks a hassle, he adds. For its 2016 F-650/750 models, Ford hopes to streamline the truck's systems and serviceability.
New powertrains will drive the 2016 models, introduced March 4 at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. The company is enhancing its 6.7-liter Powerstroke V-8 turbodiesel, available today only on smaller Ford trucks, to handle the heavy loads placed on the larger, medium-duty rigs.
"This will be what we call our second generation 6.7 liter," Kaufman says. Such tweaks include adjusting the crankshaft angle, rod bearings, main bearings, head gasket, turbocharger and fuel injectors to handle heavier cycles. Gone will be an optional 6.7-liter Cummins diesel available and Allison automatic transmission, both available on the current model.
Ford also is upgrading its six-speed automatic TorqShift transmission with two more planetary gears, up from the normal six planetaries. As with the current model, the trucks will come standard with Ford's 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engine, the only gasoline engine available in this segment. For a nominal fee, users can specify a gaseous-fuel prep kit that includes hardened valves and seats. Gas and diesel models will come equipped with the upgraded TorqShift transmission.
Even if truck owners are not planning to use gaseous fuels, such as compressed natural gas or propane, "we recommend customers buy the engine that way, period," Kaufman says. "It just extends the life of the engine."
In addition to the truck's new styling and power choices, the cab will be quieter and available with more sophisticated electronic driver aids. Responding to fleet owners' request for flexibility, however, Ford will not include Bluetooth hands-free controls as standard equipment.
"We found, even on some of our other products, that there are a variety of policies from company to company regarding phones in the vehicle," says John Ruppert, general manager for Ford commercial trucks. "Some of them don't want phone activity at all."
Although the medium-duty segment is not always easy on the operator, Ford says that by vertically integrating the truck from end to end it can dramatically improve the ride and comfort and boost operator productivity.
"At the end of the day, it makes a tremendous difference," Kaufman says. "You're much more rested, and you are more efficient."