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New engines support CNG, biodiesel (B20), E85, and get 20 percent better fuel economy during std. fuel driving

On Friday Ford Motor Comp. (F) unveiled the 2013 F-Series Super Duty.  "High technology" and "heavy truck" don't always mix like sugar and water -- at least when it comes to topics like fuel efficiency and in-car electronics -- but for an automaker who considers itself as a burgeoning "technology company" we were intrigued at what it would bring to the table.

I. Advanced Electronics

Ford announced that for the first time its top Super Duty models -- "Lariat", "King Ranch", and "Platinum" -- would be getting MyFord Touch.  Ford has incorporated redundant knob-based climate controls (as seen in the 2012/2013 Ford Explorer) and also a new set of tactile button controls to accommodate users wearing work gloves who would be unable to fiddle with a touch screen.

The idea that someone would be driving a luxury truck and wearing work gloves may be laughable to some, but note that MFT (and the buttons) should be available in base model Super Duty trucks (e.g. the XL and XLT) as well -- although it will be an option, not standard.

Our sources at Ford claim that MFT has seen surprisingly high pickup as an option on the “lesser” F-150.  Thus as a standard feature, it may actually be a purchase motivator.

MyFord Touch
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Available with an F-250, F-350, or F-450 cab, the Super Duty also boasts an advanced "Productivity" digital system that Ford introduced in 2011 and has been refining ever since.  The system automatically detects whether you've properly attached your trailer and gives you advice on how to attach it, if necessary.  The Productivity helper also keeps profiles on all your trailers to track their mileage and fuel economy (both average and real time).

Ford Super Duty wide
A red and black 2013 Ford Super Duty [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

II. New Engines

The heavy trucks also feature a brand new pair of engines -- a 6.2-liter V8 gas-burning engine and a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine.  Ford has employed some novel engineering techniques in the new engines -- for example, traditionally in large V8 engines exhaust is on the outside of the "valley", where as intake is on the inner track. Ford reversed this, putting the exhaust inside the valley, an approach that shorts the distance to the turbo and offers better heat isolation.  The cumulative result is better responsiveness, vital when towing heavy, potentially dangerous loads.

The new engines offer a fuel economy improvement of roughly 20 percent.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not track fuel economy in heavy work vehicles, so there's no official numbers, but Ford says fuel economy can reach the low 20s when the driver is load-free.  Performance when hauling loads will likely dip to 8 to 10 miles per gallon.

Power Stroke engine
Ford's new 6.7L diesel Power Stroke and 6.2L gas engines are 20 percent more fuel efficient.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Both engines have alternative fuel options -- the 6.7L diesel can handle biodiesel blends up to B20, while the 6.2L gas-burner is capable of running on ethanol blends up to E85.  For natural gas fans, a retrofitted 6.2L compressed natural gas (CNG) version is also available.

III. The Road Ahead

Driving a heavy truck isn't for everybody, but Ford appears to be leveraging its impressive portfolio of technology even in this very purpose driven market niche.  Bria Rathsburg, F-Series Super Duty Marketing Manager brags, "[The new Super Duty] has a distinct appearance and a long list of features to deliver a superior experience.  Along with that it has all of the capability F-Series trucks are famous for."

Super Duty rear
Unlike its competitors, Ford actually has to pay its bills when it comes to taxes.  Still the Ford Super Duty doesn't look any worse for wear.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

That's good news for Ford in a market where it's seeing increased competition from General Motors Comp. (GM) and Chrysler.  It's not exactly a level playing field -- its rivals, freed of having to pay taxes can deeply invest in research and development, while Ford is forced to surrender a major part of its earnings to Uncle Sam.  That said, Ford appears more than ready to rise to the occasion.


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Back to the article
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2012 1:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
Why anyone would buy one of these trucks with a gas engine is beyond me. The diesel engine variants can get 25 mpg on the highway. The better fuel economy and towing ability easily makes up for the added cost over the gas variant.




RE: Back to the article
By Spuke on 3/12/2012 3:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The diesel engine variants can get 25 mpg on the highway.
Maybe with the older trucks or with a hypermiler behind the wheel but none of the new one's will get that. Best I've gotten was 22 mpg. Still an order of magnitude better than the gas engined versions. In defense of the gas versions, the diesel option typically costs ~$6000-$7000, you do lose a little carrying capacity and towing capacity (gas trucks are lighter), maintenance costs are higher, and diesel in CA costs more than 87. IMO, you might break even. My main reasons for buying diesel was fuel economy WHILE towing, more power and torque, and an engine specifically built for commercial use.


RE: Back to the article
By themelon on 3/12/2012 5:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have seen 23.5 with my 2004.5 Duramax as long as I keep it between 70 and 75. 80 drops to about 18-19. 70mph with a 29' fifth wheel with a loaded weight of about 12k I was getting 12.

My dad gets about 19 highway on his 2011 F350 6.7PS running 80 on the highway unloaded, about 14 with his camper on it going about 65-70.


RE: Back to the article
By Spuke on 3/12/2012 5:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
I typically get 10-12 towing my 30' 5th wheel but at 65 mph (lots of mountain driving as I live in CA). Unloaded at 80 mph I get 19 mpg. This is hand calculated, not using the display BTW.


RE: Back to the article
By Manch on 3/13/2012 3:07:28 AM , Rating: 2
My pops gets about 22-24 highway depending on the weather. Usually about 17-18 in the city. That's what the in-car err truck display says. He also lives in NC in the relatively flat area around FT Bragg


RE: Back to the article
By jharper12 on 3/13/2012 7:42:46 AM , Rating: 2
"fuel economy WHILE towing"

Spot on, definitely where diesel shines. I will say though, that while the price is steep upfront, diesel just makes sense to me. It's not like you pay $6k to $8k for the diesel, and if you haven't saved $6k to $8k in fuel costs by the time you sell the truck you've made a poor choice. Diesel trucks last longer and can tow more, so they hold their value better. It's hard to find a sub $10k used diesel truck. I've seen plenty of diesel trucks with over 250k miles on them sell for $15k or more.

Hands down if you're going to tow, diesel is a great choice. If you're not going to tow, you can still make a case for diesel. What I'm more excited about?

http://www.insideline.com/chevrolet/silverado-1500...

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/12/us-marke...

A truck that can run off of natural gas and regular gas, when yesterday we had the following headline, "Natural gas ends down 2 percent, stays near 10-year low"

That's pretty sweet.


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