Ford investor announcement, released last week, outlines a general plan for the future that includes expanding the “core business” of building vehicles, and executing on “emerging opportunities” such as electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and mobility solutions.
Ford sees vehicle electrification as an important part of business going forward, and pickup trucks and commercial vehicles will be a big part of it. Ford announced a $4.5 billion investment to help the company add 13 new electrified vehicles by the year 2020. That is a lot of alternative powertrain introductions over the next 3+ years. Ford specifically called out commercial vehicles and trucks as leading the electrification trend (see the quote below).
Ford is focusing its electrified vehicles on its areas of strength – commercial vehicles, trucks, utility and performance vehicles. Ford today is working on vehicles as well as electrified vehicle fleet management, route planning and telematics solutions.
What does it mean for a vehicle to be “electrified”? It can include a spectrum of power trains: gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, full electric, hydrogen fuel-cell electric, turbine-electric hybrids, and more. Ford is being purposely vague as to not disclose too many details to competitors.
Which electrification technology would make the most sense for a pickup truck like the F-150 or the Super Duty? A hydrogen fuel-cell electric system may not offer enough driving range for a truck that hauls a tows heavy weights, and it is limited to geographic areas with hydrogen fueling stations. A plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid may be a better choice, but the added weight of batteries will take away from payload and towing capacities.
GM has been experimenting with light hybrid Silverado trucks and are working on a hydrogen fuel-cell Chevy Colorado vehicle with the U.S. military. Toyota has been researching this topic for some time, but have not officially announced any plans for an electrified pickup truck. Ram and Nissan have their respective electrified systems that they can apply to a pickup truck. Neither have made announcements about this.
In the meantime, Ford appears to be working on a turbo-diesel powered 2018 F-150, although the company have not officially confirmed or denied it. Check out the F-150 prototypes in the video below.