Ford Motor Co. will offer a diesel engine in its flagship F-150 pickup truck for the first time, the company announced ahead of the Detroit auto show.
It’s a move to increase the range of its popular F-150 pickup and attract new buyers in the unusually loyal truck market.
Diesel options are sparse in the consumer market. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles offers a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine in its Ram 1500 pickup. But General Motors doesn’t offer a diesel choice in its Silverado 1500, the F-150’s main rival. Other manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan don’t offer diesel variants of their half-ton pickups.
Ford expects its new engine will achieve an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 30 mpg in highway driving. The number would be the best in the competitive light-duty pickup segment.
“We’re very confident we’re going to hit this target,” said Dave Filipe, vice president of powertrain engineering at Ford. “Some of our customers want even more fuel economy, and the diesel does that for them.”
The new 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V6 will produce 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque. The Ram diesel produces 240 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque and is rated at 27 mpg in highway driving.
The Ford engine will be on display at the Detroit auto show, formally known as the North American International Auto Show, which opens to the public Jan. 20.
Ford buyers have asked for a diesel engine option in the F-150 for years due to its low-end torque and towing capability. The time is right, executives said, because new technology enabled a smooth and quiet ride that is traditionally difficult to achieve with a diesel powertrain.
“We now know the recipe to make a diesel engine work,” Filipe said.
Ford expects the move to resonate both with retail and commercial buyers.
The diesel engine will be available on F-150 Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims in either 4×2 or 4×4 configuration. It will be priced higher than the gas-powered engines available on those models.
In Lariat trims, the diesel engine option brings the starting price of the truck to $44,685. That’s $2,400 higher than the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and $4,000 more than the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 currently offered.
The diesel will be priced from $54,600 on the F-150 King Ranch and $57,155 on the F-150 Platinum. In both models the new engine costs $2,400 more than the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and $3,000 more than the 5.0-liter V8 on sale now.
Fleet customers will be able to buy the diesel engine in the base XL and XLT trims, as well.
Ford dealerships will stock the diesel trucks beginning in spring 2018. It will also go on sale in Canada.F-150 and Expedition SUV. An aluminum body and bed, first introduced on the F-150 in 2015, reduces weight and improves fuel economy. Pollution-cutting technology such as automatic start-stop and exhaust gas recirculation come standard.
The engine helps the F-150 achieve a maximum payload capacity of 2,020 pounds. It also has a maximum trailer tow rating of 11,400 pounds. Maximum torque is available at 1,750 rpm.
“I don’t believe our competitors are going to have the same recipe coupled with the diesel engine that gets 30 mpg highway,” Filipe said.
Ford equipped the truck with a 26-gallon fuel tank. It also has a 5.4-liter diesel exhaust fluid tank to reduce smog-causing diesel particulates known as nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions. The fluid, known as AdBlue, needs to be replaced about every 10,000 mile
Ford will offer the same five-year, 60,000-mile warranty for the diesel engine as it does with other F-150 powertrains.
Ford expects a 5 percent of F-Series buyers to opt for the diesel, Filipe said. But its Dagenham Engine Plant in Essex, England, where the engine is built, will be prepared to meet increased demand.
“If volumes go up, that’s a good problem,” he said.
The engine is an updated version of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, nicknamed “Lion,” first introduced on Land Rover models. The engine is part of an agreement made before Ford sold Land Rover in 2008. The Lion diesel engine is currently available in the U.S. in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
The same engineers who developed Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine in its F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks also designed the new diesel. The team took the original Lion design and updated it with modern technology and optimized gearing.
Engine components such as the crankshafts and rod bearings were upgraded for additional strength and durability. The turbocharger and fuel injectors were tuned specifically to meet the standards of towing enthusiasts. Dual grille shutters can open and close automatically, enhancing aerodynamics for better fuel economy or optimizing airflow for more power.
“The towing customer wants refinement too, especially in this segment,” said David Ives, diesel technical specialist for Ford. “You get out on the road and swear you’re driving a gas engine.”
Ford sees a growing market for the diesel-powered F-150 as demand for pickup trucks increases.
The Ford F-Series was the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2017, topping sales of 896,000 units. That represents a 9.3 percent increase compared with 2016 figures, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
Sales of 585,000 Silverado 1500-3500 pickups placed Chevrolet in second, and the Ram 1500-3500 finished third with sales of 500,000 units.
Overall, automakers sold 2.4 million full-size pickup trucks last year, an increase of 5.6 percent compared with 2016.