Ford Motor Co. is looking to plug a gap in an already robust truck lineup with Tuesday’s introduction of the F-600 at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
The new chassis cab truck slots just below Ford’s F-650 Class 6 truck and will offer much of the capability of the big truck packaged in a smaller, more maneuverable vehicle better suited for areas with congested traffic.
The F-600 gives Ford a work vehicle in nearly every class starting with the F-150 light-duty pickup and ranging up to the beefy F-750 that’s capable of working as dump truck or car hauler. But there is a large jump in both physical size and capability from Ford’s F-550 to its F-650 medium-duty truck. The new F-600 bridges that gap. The only vehicle Ford is missing is a Class 8 long-haul truck.
Class 6 truck
The F-600 is a full-on Class 6 chassis cab truck, with a maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR, of 22,000 pounds.
“It answers the call from the customers, from highway repair to commercial construction. An intermediate-duty truck with heavy payload capacity, a smaller footprint and smart features,” said Mike Pruitt, the truck’s chief program engineer. “Right size, with the right power, and the right technology to tackle America’s toughest jobs.”
Buyers will choose the F-600 in either a rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive configuration. It will be powered by Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine or the new 7.3-liter gasoline V-8. To help achieve the Class 6 capability, the F-600 has upgraded brakes, driveline and chassis components compared with the F-550. Additionally, the 19.5-inch wheels have a higher weight rating.
Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission is on the new F-600. It has an optional live drive power takeoff that allows functions such as a dump truck bed to operate when the vehicle is in motion.
The F-600 has available driver-assist technology that is shared with Ford’s smaller Super Duty truck lineup, including automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights and available lane-departure warning.
“This is for customers who don’t want to have to decide between bringing all the tools they might need for a job and overloading their truck,” said Kevin Koester, Ford’s medium-duty and F-Series commercial vehicle marketing manager. “Through our relationships with fleets, we learned that there was a demand to stay in the same size vehicle as an F-550, but to provide greater GVWR and hence greater payload.”
Ford believes the new driver-assist technologies will make the truck easier to drive than a larger sibling, lowering both training and operating costs over those for a much larger vehicle.
“Finding new drivers is less imposing of a task when the truck that individual will be asked to operate is closer to what they drive on a daily basis,” Koester said.
The vehicle will expand Ford’s reach in the work truck market.
“The F-600 is an answer to Ram and Chevy’s Class 5 trucks,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at IHS Markit. “They can offer more capability in the Class 5 truck than the competition.”
Chevrolet offers Class 6 and Class 7 trucks in a partnership with Navistar. Ram doesn’t offer a chassis cab truck over Class 5.
‘Cost of ownership’
The safety technology is an advantage, too. “It’s all about cost of ownership,” Brinley said. Features like autonomous emergency braking reduce accidents, which reduces downtime and lowers operating costs.
“This market has been slower to adopt the technology because they are so cost-focused,” Brinley said. “But now we have data to show the effectiveness of these systems and how they can save the owner on operating expenses.”
Customers will be able to order the new F-600 starting in early 2020 for delivery around the middle of next year.