The full-size pickup truck market has been rebounding since sinking to historic lows in 2009. The market is led by the Ford F-150 with models from Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Toyota and Nissan rounding out the segment.
The Ford Motor Company will debut the next generation F-150 next year, a model that it hopes will help this truck builder retain its top position in the market.
Auto Trends interviewed Phil Collareno, Vehicle Line Director for the F-150, to discuss the history of the Ford F-Series, where it is today and what plans the company has for its future.
Auto Trends: Ford launched the F-Series beginning with the 1948 model year. What defining models have set this truck apart from the pack? For instance, the F-150 Raptor.
Phil Collareno: There have been many models that have set the F-Series apart. Certain milestones stand out including the following:
- 1948: F-Series pickups (F-1, F-2, F-3) debut
- 1975: F-150 introduced
- In recent times, there’s been:
- 1993: Ford F-150 SVT Lightning debuts kicking off what would become the benchmark of high performance sport trucks
- 2000: Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson: First true premium luxury truck
- 2001: Ford F-150 King Ranch: Set the benchmark for truck luxury that others have followed. Also was the first light-duty pickup under 8,500 lbs. GVW with four full-size doors
- 2009: Ford F-150 Platinum introduced a whole new contemporary luxury feel to Ford Trucks
- 2010: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Continues to set the benchmark among all vehicles as one of the most capable and fun off-road trucks
Auto Trends: Specifically, what have these “halo” models done for the F-150 brand?
Phil Collareno: These models have enhanced the F-150 brand. They’re aspirational trucks, vehicles that our customers choose to reward their hard work while still every bit “Built Ford Tough” and capable of getting the job done.Auto Trends: Ford has always offered a variety of engines to power the F-150. Today’s buyers are flocking to the EcoBoost. What engine(s) have had the most impact on F-150 buyers down through the years?
Phil Collareno: EcoBoost has clearly been adopted by F-150 buyers, who appreciate its excellent combination of torque, towing capability and fuel economy. EcoBoost provides the power of a V-8 with the fuel economy of a V-6. Last year, 43 percent of F-150 buyers chose EcoBoost.
Our standard 3.7-liter V-6 has also done well with customers who appreciate its fuel economy and ability to tow up to 6,700 pounds. The 6.2-liter V-8 proved itself as the most powerful half-ton truck engine at 411 horsepower and 434 foot-pounds of torque.
Another strong and popular engine in recent years was the 5.4-liter V-8, which was retired after 2010.
Auto Trends: Given that Ford has led the market since the late 1970s, its position going forward seems assured. Knowing that Ford won’t take its customers for granted, what experiences can Ford give its current owners and future shoppers to persuade them to stick with or move to Ford?
Phil Collareno: Ford F-150 delivers the segment’s best combination of power, capability, safety and fuel economy. Now in its 65th year, the F-Series has been the best-selling truck in America for 36 consecutive years, the best-selling vehicle in America for 31 consecutive years and the brand with the most trucks on the road with more than 250,000 miles, as certified by Polk.
The F-150 also boasts leading safety ratings. The F-150’s fully boxed frame, made from high-strength hydroformed steel, provides a backbone built for increased durability and safety. This truck has earned top safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Ford F-150 also features an unrivaled four engine choices, including the advanced 3.5-liter EcoBoost, to help customers find the most fuel-efficient and capable engine to meet their needs.
Ford’s patented EcoBoost engine delivers an unmatched combination of best-in-class towing and payload, torque and fuel economy. More than 300,000 EcoBoost engines have been sold for the F-150 and it is now Ford¹s best-selling truck engine.
Auto Trends: In 2011, Ford scrapped the F-150 engine’s line and introduced four new engines as well as making the six-speed automatic transmission standard across the model line. What did that do for Ford besides increasing sales year over year?
Phil Collareno: The latest engine lineup met the needs of customers looking for fuel-efficient engines that didn’t require compromise or unreasonable price premiums.
The introduction of the EcoBoost engine now gives our customers the best combination of performance and fuel economy with 22 mpg and 11,700 pounds of towing.
Auto Trends: Specifically, what does Ford have that keeps customers coming back?
Phil Collareno: Only Ford Trucks are Built Ford Tough. The durability of our trucks keeps customers coming back because they know they can trust their Ford Truck to get the job done. The Ford F-150 also delivers the best-in-class combination of power, capability, safety and fuel economy.
The F-150 features an unrivaled four engine choices, including Ford’s patented EcoBoost engine, which delivers an unmatched combination of best-in-class towing, payload, torque and fuel economy.
Auto Trends: Ford lost some small truck buyers when the Ranger was canceled. Certainly, some buyers moved up to the F-150, but what is the company doing to reach these owners? Will the global Ranger come to America? If not, will Ford offer a short wheelbase F-150 model, perhaps an F-100?
Phil Collareno: We are investing in and expanding our F-Series lineup for the North American market with new powertrains and improved performance, including fuel efficiency. The compact pickup segment in the U.S. has been declining from almost 8 percent of total industry sales in 1994 to 2 percent of industry sales in 2012.
The F-Series works best for customers in North America. The global Ranger works best in markets outside of North America, where we do not sell the F-Series.
Auto Trends: Why is the Ford Atlas important to the company? Given Ford’s position in the market, won’t the next generation F-150 be a slam-dunk for current enthusiasts?
Phil Collareno: The Ford Atlas Concept showcases the design, capability, fuel efficiency and smart technologies that will define future pickups.
Auto Trends: Ford Super Duty trucks can be outfitted with a diesel engine. What plans does Ford have to introduce a diesel to the F-150 line?
Phil Collareno: Diesel engines make the most sense for our commercial truck customers, particularly those with easy access to diesel fuel, established heavy-duty driving routines or long periods of idle time, such as ambulances.
Auto Trends: Ford and Toyota are collaborating on hybrid technology with the purpose of bringing a hybrid truck to the market. Will we see a Ford F-150 hybrid and if so when? What else can you tell us about this model?
Phil Collareno: We are absolutely committed to top fuel economy with every new vehicle we introduce. It is too soon to discuss specific future product plans.
Auto Trends: F-150 buyers choose these trucks for payload, towing and for work reasons. What can Ford do to improve the cabin going forward? Will we see a continued advancement in in-cabin technologies and what limits are there to rolling out these technologies?
Phil Collareno: We are constantly looking at multiple ways to improve our cars and trucks with innovative technology that improves fuel efficiency and capability. It is premature, however, to discuss specific approaches or solutions that we might use for future products.
Our current trucks have innovative technologies designed with truck customers in mind, including a specially designed interface for MyFordTouch and Ford Works Solutions, a suite of truck-exclusive technologies for productivity.
Auto Trends: What other engineering changes can we expect in future Ford trucks? We know that Ford plans to reduce vehicle weight by making use of carbon fiber, aluminum and other lightweight materials. Will Ford trucks get a 10-speed transmission? Will cylinder deactivation be used? How else will Ford deliver a more efficient truck without compromising on performance?
Phil Collareno: We are constantly looking at multiple ways to improve our cars and trucks with innovative technology that improves fuel efficiency and capability.
It is premature, however, to discuss specific approaches or solutions that we might use for future products.
About Phil Collareno
Phil Collareno has been with the Ford Motor Company since 1979. Besides overseeing product development for the F-150, he does the same for the company’s chassis cabs, large SUVs, vans and heavy-duty products.
Collareno has held several positions with Ford in North and South America, and in Europe where he served as the vehicle line director for commercial vehicles. He holds bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan.