DETROIT Oct 5 Ford Motor Co said on
Wednesday new 2017 models of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck
will improve fuel efficiency by 11 percent for four-wheel drive
versions which use a 10-speed transmission jointly developed
with rival General Motors Co.
The best-selling vehicle in North America since the
mid-1970s, the F-150 four-wheel drive versions with 3.5-liter
"EcoBoost" turbo-charged engines will achieve an average 20
miles per gallon, up from 18 mpg from current versions.
F-150 fuel economy ratings compare favorably, albeit only
slightly better, than V8 gasoline pickup trucks the company
targets by rivals GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
. But Ford probably will not widen its sales lead on
this factor alone, one analyst said.
"This engine is going in a truck that for the most part will
eclipse $40,000 and with gas in the $2 to $2.50 range, 1 or 2
miles per gallon more is not going to be winning over many new
buyers," said Dave Sullivan, automotive analyst with AutoPacific
The ratings are for combined highway and city driving. The
2017 F-150 models go on sale by the end of this year.
Ford executives have warned investors that with gasoline
prices low, consumers may not pay the full cost of technology
used to meet stiffer fuel efficiency mandates.
When Ford and GM announced their cooperation to develop
10-speed transmissions in 2013, U.S. gasoline prices had
averaged at least $3.50 per gallon for three straight years. And
both companies were recovering from the 2008-2009 financial
crisis and sought to save on expensive vehicle development
But gas prices have trended downward since, and were $2.23
per gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA.
The costs are great to gain just a single mile per gallon
for a model. The company will gain more flexibility on its model
lineup as it strives to meet U.S. mandates, even with a small
gain in fuel efficiency of the F-150 because of its sales
In addition to the costs to develop the new technology, Ford
invested $1.4 billion for a production line at its transmission
plant in Livonia, Michigan for the 10-speeds that will go into
the new trucks.
Of the new 3.5-liter "EcoBoost" trucks with a 10-speed
transmission, 80 percent will be four-wheel drive. Together with
two-wheel drive versions, trucks with the 10-speed transmissions
will account for about 30 percent of F-150 sales, Ford said.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bernard Orr)