Ford's Hottest F-150 Sets Another Record

Ford's 2014 SVT Raptor. Photo Credit: Ford Motor.

Ford's (NYSE: F  ) bread-and-butter F-Series truck has been America's best-selling vehicle for 31 straight years, and the high-performance F-150 SVT Raptor is maybe the hottest premium version of the popular truck, setting record high sales in eight of the past 10 months. Five years after the worst recession in decades, people are finally beginning to purchase trucks for recreational use, not just for work. Can Ford take advantage of this trend and turn the Raptor into a big-time seller over rival General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) , or will it remain a niche for off-road enthusiasts?

Across the auto industry, days' supply is a typical way to measure consumer demand for vehicles, with 60 days' supply being average. Sales for the increasingly popular Raptor are up 14% for the year, and Ford has maintained only a 15-day supply.

"Raptor owners are looking for a high-performing, uncompromising off-road pickup truck with the features and luxuries found in today's premium trucks," said Doug Scott, Ford truck group marketing manager, in a Ford press release. "Since its launch in 2009, we've continually moved Raptor forward in capability and design, and the 2014 Special Edition is the best Raptor yet."

In addition to its flashy looks in a typically bland styling segment, here's what makes the truck so popular.

Ford's 2014 SVT Raptor. Photo credit: Ford.

Built Ford tough
To start things off, the SVT Raptor is available only with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that muscles up the best-in-class 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. For all that performance power, the Raptor's 16 MPG on the highway isn't horrible, and is only about 2 MPG less than my Mustang GT.

Ford has put out some innovation in the high-performance ride, too. It produced the first application of a wheel with both conventional and beadlock mounting abilities. A beadlock wheel simply secures the edges of a tire to the wheel between two surfaces so the tire is less likely to roll off the rim -- providing extra grip when needed off-road. The folks at the Blue Oval have even filed a patent on the system.

For the past three years, the SVT Raptor has set the standard for performance in part because of its industry-exclusive internal triple-bypass FOX Racing Shox dampers, skid plates, and Hill Descent Control.

Last year Ford introduced a front grille-mounted camera to help off-roaders see when climbing over steep hills, rocks, or whatever they happen to encounter on their journey. It even has a washer function to help the camera clear of mud or dirt, something that should definitely come in handy.

Interior of a 2014 SVT Raptor. Photo credit: Ford.

For the 2014 model you can expect high-intensity discharge headlamps to help improve visibility and SYNC with MyFord Touch for added connectivity in today's Internet fueled world. The connectivity system has an 8-inch center-mounted touch screen with five-way controls mounted on the steering wheel.

According to Ford, it also includes a nice set of standard safety options.

  • AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
  • Trailer sway control
  • Safety Canopy System
  • Dual-stage front airbags
  • SecuriLock passive Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer System
  • SOS Post-Crash Alert System
  • Four-wheel anti-lock brake system

Interior of Ford's 2014 SVT Raptor. Photo credit: Ford.

Investing takeaway
This is yet another great story out of the company for Ford investors, but this isn't a model that is going to move the needle in terms of profitability, and it will probably remain a niche vehicle -- only 13,000 Raptors were sold in 2012, compared with nearly 650,000 F-Series trucks overall. But that doesn't mean it isn't a big deal. Consider that the recent success of the Raptor does two important things.

First, this gives Ford great insights to what consumers want and desire in a more premium truck -- knowledge the company will no doubt use as it puts the finishing touches on the next-generation 2015 F-150. Secondly, the success and attention the Raptor has been getting recently helps Ford steal back some of the press that GM's all-new Silverado and Sierra were getting over the summer. Both are very important aspects for Ford right now, and investors can rest assured that the company is positioned to deliver an excellent second half of 2013, and a great 2014.

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 4:46 PM, AYREWOLF wrote:

    If Ford and GM wants to sell more trucks, put a 6 speed standard transmission and a clutch back in as options for new trucks. I buy Dodge now because RAM is the only one still offering a standard transmission.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 4:46 PM, RealTalk wrote:

    looks nice, too bad i only buy USA. Fords are combination of mexican/chinese JUNK.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 6:10 PM, maximume01 wrote:

    i hate to bust your bubble RealTalk but are you aware that all the ford f150's are built in america?the one state Claycomo, Missouri in the Kansas City Assembly and in Dearborn, Michigan

    in Dearborn truck plant.and most all fors vehicles are built in the states,just a few cars and suv's are not built here due to fact that they cant build the millions and millions of vehicles needed for sale.and to add to it they build truck engines right outside of clevelend ohio in Brook Park, Ohio.and are adding on to the plant to accommodate the 4 cylinder engine that is currently being built in spain.and to add to your wrongs do you know china nly hasd 2 ford plants one is used for the BZ series engine which is mainly used in the Mazdas and the other china plant is for making of the Transit you might want to look up the facts before bashing Ford Motors.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 6:13 PM, maximume01 wrote:

    and yes AYREWOLF

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 6:15 PM, maximume01 wrote:

    OOPS and yes AYREWOLF ford does need to bring back the manual trans as a standard option.thats all a lot of people prefer.also they need to bring back the Manual Lockouts also as a standard option in the 4X4 trucks.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 7:28 PM, BigFED wrote:

    I want the Ranger BACK!!! Make a MINI-RAPTOR!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 7:35 PM, bcweir wrote:

    Thank you Ford for putting the automatic shifter on the FLOOR (where it belongs) and not on the steering column.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 7:40 PM, ShamanWizard wrote:

    Wouldn't be caught dead in one of these POSs.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 9:10 PM, NaturallyCurious wrote:

    I love Ford F-150 trucks and that is the truck I would buy but, so help me, I sincerely believe there is more metal in a Coor's light beer can than there is in the front end of one of them!

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 7:05 AM, bassxyz wrote:

    geez my friend sells at a ford dealer in our city and says sales in july and aug have been very slow. and this is a great big dealership. ????????? his trucks arnt moving well at all.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 11:45 AM, SupportTheSecond wrote:

    You can be much better then this for the money by setting up and modifying a much less costly truck.

    This is an overpriced truck that most times the people that buy never even get it dirty which is

    typical of those that want to appear to be something that they're not.

    Much better trucks out there to be had for the cost of this one.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 10:39 PM, CitizenUSA wrote:

    I love the Raptor's looks but please give me a 6 cyl Diesel like in the new Ram 150. My 6 cyl diesel in my MB GL gets 20 around town and up to 33 on the highway and has over 400 lb ft of torque. Plenty for my needs.

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