The Ford F-150 is a pickup with a plethora of drivetrain options and while Australia has only the V6 EcoBoost petrol locked in for now, the line-up could expand in future
Ford Australia has confirmed it will introduce the F-150 full-size pickup here in mid-2023, but has opted against a diesel powertrain in the initial line-up and hinted that hybrid or fully-electric ‘Lightning’ variants could follow in the future.
Strong local demand for full-size pickups has fuelled Ford Australia’s move to introduce factory-approved right-hand-drive converted F-150s here. Speculation has been rife around what would power an Aussie F-150, and now we know that from launch only a 3.5-litre ‘EcoBoost’ twin-turbo-petrol V6 is available.
This engine is one of five offered in the US F-150 range. Americans can also choose a hybrid version of the 3.5-litre donk; a petrol-powered 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6; 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 and 3.3-litre naturally-aspirated V6.
Australian buyers have a penchant for diesel-powered utes and pickups, but Ford’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 won’t be coming here in the F-150. It may be the headline engine of the new-generation Ranger line-up, but the diesel was discontinued in US market F-150s last year.
Ford Australia global trucks enterprise manager Nat Manariti told Chasing Cars it selected the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 due to its sheer grunt and capability.
“When we think about the application of the F-150 in this market, and what our customers want in a full-size pickup truck, the research told us that it had to be the most powerful and most capable vehicle (for buyers) to be able to tow their big toys and that’s why we chose the EcoBoost V6,” she said.
With 298kW of power and 678Nm of torque combined with a 4.5-tonne towing capacity, that benchmark appears to have been met – but fuel economy remains a key concern for Australian buyers.
When tested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency the EcoBoost V6 used 11.75L/100km in combined conditions, while the 3.0-litre diesel V6 returned 10.22L/100km.
The US-market EcoBoost V6 Hybrid matched the combined fuel economy of the diesel, but the efficiency gains skew heavily towards urban rather than highway driving.
Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lightning is due to reach US showrooms in a matter of weeks. It would prove an attractive more eco-friendly alternative, but local and global demand for the model means Australia is unlikely to receive it anytime soon. A hybrid version would appear more likely in the short- or mid-term.
Far from closing the door on adding more options to the range, Ms Manariti said Ford Australia was “absolutely open” to new opportunities in regards to the F-150, but the immediate priority was getting the petrol V6 model established in showrooms.
Ford Australia CEO Andrew Birkic added that it could offer more selection down the track if the petrol V6-powered F-150 proved successful in Australia’s relatively small market.
“Given our volume, we’re not going to have too much complexity for our customers and our dealers and for us. So we believe we’ve got the right option,” he said.
“We just need to ensure that we take the appropriate steps. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
When speaking about the F-150 Lightning specifically, Mr Birkic said he was “absolutely sure” there was demand for the electric pickup in Australia.
Mr Birkic noted that the F-150 Lightning would need to stack up financially and Ford Australia needed to be conscious of the challenges facing its North America division. It is currently struggling to supply the overwhelming demand for the electric pickup.
Australian appetite for American pickups with mighty tow ratings shows no sign of abating. We bought over 4000 RAM pickups and over 2000 Chevrolet Silverados in 2021, so Ford is understandably keen for its F-150 to join the party and steal market share.
More economical powerplants, or at least a greater range offered, would give the Blue Oval a huge advantage.
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