Best-selling F150 pickup goes on a diet, loses 700 lbs to improve fuel economy

2015 Ford F150
© Ford

New Year resolution for the new 2015 Ford F150

Large vehicles will never be a favorite of treehuggers, and we've always said that people shouldn't get them just to make a fashion statement, if they dont' have a real practical need for them. But there are millions of people who do need bigger, more powerful vehicles to carry heavy tools and pull trailers full of materials for work, or simply avoid getting stuck on dirt roads in rural areas far from all help...

Because these large vehicles can burn as much fuel as multiple smaller cars, especially when pulling a lot of weight, making them more efficient is a good way to save large amounts of fuel. Even Bob Lutz, the father of the Chevy Volt, now thinks the Volt should've been a big truck. But while we wait for a plug-in truck (Tesla wants to make one), let's have a look at the progress that Ford has been making with its perennial best-selling, the brand new 2015 F150.

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Less weight = less fuel

The first thing to note on the 2015 Ford F150, which was just unveiled in Detroit, is the use of light weight materials. Ford engineers increased the use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel – from 23% to 77% of the frame – to improve stiffness and durability while reducing weight. The new frame is up to 60 pounds lighter than the current frame.

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But most of the savings are in the body: High-strength, aluminum alloys, already used in aerospace, commercial transportation, energy and many other rugged industries, are used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance, and also saving weight. Overall, up to 700 pounds of weight have been saved

“Our objective was to find materials that allowed us to design the truck to be as tough – or tougher – than the current model, yet could help it be hundreds of pounds lighter for better capability and fuel economy,” said Pete Friedman, manager, Ford manufacturing research. “Out of all the materials we tested, we carefully selected only certain grades of aluminum that met our high performance standards in all of our tests, while allowing us to trim hundreds of pounds from the truck.”

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Anti-idling + turbo + direct injection + weight savings

Another way to save fuel can be found under the hood. The 2015 F150 will be available with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine that features stop-start technology (aka anti-idling). The 6-cylinder performs like a mid-range 8-cylinder engine, and while Ford hasn't released official fuel economy numbers at this point, it should be a lot more frugal thanks to weight-saving techniques and the combination of turbocharging, direct injections, and stop-start.

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All these things combined should help the new 2015 F150 do much better than the previous generation when it comes to MPG, thus emitting less CO2 and smog-forming pollutants.

It wasn't so long ago that fuel-economy for big trucks had been mostly stagnant for years. Lately that has changed, and it's a very good thing. Don't buy one if you don't need it, but if you do, the new F150 should definitely be worth a look.

Via Ford, GCC

See also: In 2013, GM sold 23,094 Chevy Volts and Nissan sold 22,610 electric LEAFs

Tags: Energy Efficiency | Transportation