The thought of a half-ton pickup truck achieving 30 miles per gallon (MPG) with a gasoline engine was unfathomable, just a few years ago. A 30 MPG rating for the 2015 Ford F-150 would be nothing short of remarkable. While the F-150’s gas mileage ratings have not been released for 2015, engineering leaps at Ford may have put that magic thirty within reach. The savings potential is based on three core technologies: lightweighting, displacement downsizing, and aerodynamics.
The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for years on end. A significant drop in the F150’s fuel consumption = a lot more money in F150 owners wallets and lessened need for our nation to import oil. This will do more than budge the needle. Lets take a look at how Ford made the magic happen …
Ford F-150 – Engine Downsizing
Since its introduction in the F-150 a few years back, EcoBoost technology has opened the eyes of many that believed “there’s no replacement for displacement.” The new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is the most fuel efficient engine in the 2015 F-150 lineup. Turbocharging and direct injection deliver torque and horsepower ratings that rival with some V8s. The 2.7L EcoBoost V6 uses a compacted graphite iron block (to shave pounds) and auto stop/start (to slash idle time wastage). So how can Ford get away with using such a small engine? It starts with lightweighting …
Ford F-150 – Lightweighting
You’ve likely heard that the 2015 Ford F150 is seven hundred pounds (or so) lighter than the 2014 model. This dramatically lower curb weight allows Ford to use smaller engines (which are, in themselves lighter), and it all starts with the frame. The F-150’s fully-boxed frame uses high-strength 70,000 PSI steel and shaves sixty pounds over its predecessor. Most of the chatter, however, is about the F150’s extensive use of aluminum. The 2015’s use of aluminum body panels might be the first on a pickup truck, they follow on the successful use of aluminum by Audi and Range Rover.
Ford F-150 – Aerodynamics
It’s no secret that pickup trucks are among the most unaerodynamic vehicles on the road – they’re big, tall, and square. The F-150’s exterior designers were faced with the daunting task of keeping the truck’s visual DNA, while improving its aerodynamic efficiency. The new face of the truck features LED headlights that are as aero-slick as they are dramatic. The grille features active shutters that close at highway speeds to improve efficiency. Subtle aero tweaks can be found throughout the the truck, from the nose to the tailgate.
So will it all add up to 30 MPG? We’ll see, soon enough …
For a more in-depth look at the new F-150, check out this video I shot (for Autobytel) with the lead engineer and designer:
– by Daniel Gray