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Why Ford Is Giving the 2015 F-150 Another (Eco)Boost

By John Rosevear - Jul 27, 2014 at 3:31PM

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Why does Ford's new truck need a second turbo V6? The answer might lie with fleet sales.

Ford's all-new 2015 F-150 was revealed in Detroit in January. The new truck is expected to start arriving at Ford dealers by the end of the year. Source: Ford Motor Company 

Slowly but surely, Ford ( F 3.85% ) is releasing more and more information on its upcoming all-new 2015 F-150 pickup line.

We have known for a while that the new trucks will have aluminum body panels, a radical move intended to improve the trucks' fuel economy by saving weight. 

Making a vehicle lighter can help engineers improve its fuel economy in several ways. One is by using a smaller engine: With less weight to push around, a smaller engine can be enough to do the job.

But it was still something of a surprise to many when Ford released more details on its new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 this past week. Ford already has a successful turbocharged EcoBoost V6 in its current F-150 -- a 3.5-liter model -- and the company says it'll be carried over to the all-new trucks. Why does it need another one?

As Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear sees it, the answer might not lie with the preferences of individual Ford fans. As he explains in this short video, the new engine might be intended for another important group of Ford customers -- the buyers who purchase pickups for commercial fleets.

A transcript of the video is below.

John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for Ford spilled some more details on its all-new 2015 F-150 pickup this past week, and this brand-new truck line continues to look like quite a package as we get closer to its launch.

We learned a little more this week about one of the key options on the all-new truck, it's a brand-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. This is a high-output twin-turbo design that Ford says is entirely new. It produces 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, big numbers for a 2.7-liter V6. Ford says that the power-to-weight ratio of the 2015 F-150 with this engine will be 15% better than the 2014 truck equipped with the 5.0-liter V8 engine, and that's because the new truck is lighter.

Ford has of course made a very big deal about the all-new F-150's extensive use of aluminum, something that has been a huge topic of discussion since the trucks were unveiled back in January. But it sounds like this new V6 could be a very big deal, too.

Ford says it will include the first use of Auto Start-Stop technology in the F-150, this shuts off the engine when you're at a stop, and then quickly restarts it when you take your foot off the brake. Ford says it has specially tuned this technology for truck customers. Among other things, it shuts off when you're towing or in four wheel drive mode.

Payload rating in a 4x2 F-150 equipped with the new 2.7 EcoBoost is 2,250 pounds, Ford says, and the towing capacity is 8,500 pounds. That's not enough for everybody, of course, but it should make for a very efficient mid-range package. And it offers commercial fleet buyers an interesting new alternative.

Individuals who buy trucks often opt for premium packages, nice seats and a good stereo and so forth, and many of them want the V8 engine or whatever, maximum towing capacity just in case they need it. But Ford sells a lot of pickups to commercial buyers, contractors and oilfield services companies and miners and so forth.

Those folks care about cost, and about cost to run. They've bought a lot of the current F-150s with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which gets better mileage than most V8 trucks while delivering good power. The 3.5 EcoBoost will be offered again in the all-new 2015 trucks, but now there's this second EcoBoost option, which should be a little more efficient and might be of interest to these kinds of buyers as well.

As I said the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is coming back for 2015, as is the 5.0-liter V8, and then there will be this new 2.7-liter EcoBoost as well as a naturally aspirated 3.5 V6, that appears to be the base engine. For 2015 that'll have 283 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, good enough for a tow rating of 7,600 pounds in the new lighter-weight trucks.

We still have yet to see the pricing on the new F-150s, and we are mindful that aluminum is more expensive than steel, but at least on features Ford seems as determined as ever to keep its trucks at the forefront of competition, and that's good news for Ford shareholders because these trucks have historically been tremendously profitable products. Thanks for watching.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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