Ford's (NYSE:F) F-Series full-size pickup truck has dominated the sales charts in the U.S. for 37 consecutive years now, but rather than resting on its success the company plans to extend its lead over the competition with a more revolutionary approach to its 2015 F-150. Just a quick glance at some of the specifics and you'll quickly realize what Ford's up to: It has melded the "Ford Tough" image of the past with the technology of today to create the toughest and smartest truck around. It's a strategy that should work well for the company, and its customers and investors. Here are some details to chew on while the all-new F-150 is being shown off in Detroit today.
The revolutionary part of the all-new F-150 is not so much in its appearance, but more to do with its use of military-grade aluminum-alloy that reduces the truck's weight by nearly 700 pounds.
However, it's important to note how and where Ford has applied this aluminum. Ford engineers actually increased the use of high-strength steel in the F-150 frame from 23% to 77% to make sure that it was stronger, more durable, and structurally rigid than the current F-150. According to Ford, the lighter truck with its stronger frame has an increased towing and hauling capability with better efficiency, to boot.
Ford is already spreading its message to make sure consumers understand that this F-150 is more bullet-proof military vehicle than aluminum coke can. "Our frame team developed exclusive, industry-first engineering techniques to create a truck foundation that is lighter without sacrificing toughness. This F-150 frame is the toughest we have ever built," said John Caris, F-150 lead frame engineer, in a press release.
Ford will use high-strength aluminum alloy, which is already used in rugged industries, throughout the F-150 body which will improve dent and ding resistance, in addition to weight reduction. For those worried that the increased use of aluminum might also lead to more rust problems, rest assured that Ford has tested the truck thoroughly. By the time the production vehicle hits the dealerships it will have undergone more than 10 million miles of testing as well as endured salt sprays and acidified sprays to test for corrosion. According to Ford, the truck exceeded expectations, although the real test will be when hundreds of thousands of consumers hit the road in the all-new F-150.
With the F-Series being the No. 1 selling truck for 37 years, obviously Ford is doing something right – expect that trend to continue with the 2015 F-150. Now, however, Ford's adding to its brand image by increasing technology features which aim to make the truck as smart as it is tough.
More than a dozen "smart" new technologies were added to the all-new F-150 – many of the features are appearing for the first time on a pickup truck. One of the biggest points was to improve visibility with Ford's new 360-degree-camera system which will provide views, as you can guess, of all four sides of the truck to make navigating and parking easier.
Ford also added LED headlamps that provide a better quality light and consume less energy than traditional headlamps – a huge bonus is that they are designed to last the entire life of the truck. The 2015 F-150 will also offer smart driver-assist technologies on the pickup for the first time. Those features include lane-keeping assist which monitors lane markings and alerts the driver if the truck drifts beyond the lane. It offers adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system, and a blind-spot-information system.
The F-150 also has integrated loading ramps for easy loading of any toys consumers might be hauling around. The truck also boasts a trailer hitch assist which uses the rear-view camera feature with a dynamic line based on steering wheel angles to help consumers line up the truck to a trailer hitch without needing a spotter.
For those craving more infotainment technology, fear not: A new eight-inch LCD productivity screen is included in the instrument panel which provides apps for fuel economy, towing tips or other additional apps you want to set on your home screen.
There's too many details and features to cover in one article, including specs on the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine option. However, we know one thing's for sure: The 2015 F-150 is both tough and smart. This is the latest design that proves the company plans to follow its "One Ford" plan and produce better-quality vehicles with improved fuel efficiency, safety, technology, and value – a win for consumers, investors, and the company alike.
Fool contributor Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.