DETROIT -- You will still see those tough guy truck ads during NFL games, but Ford is trying to convince buyers that high-gas mileage pickups can still be manly.
With its redesigned F-150 being introduced Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford is moving to an all-aluminum body that drops 700 pounds in weight and boosts gas mileage.
Not only is the F-150 part of the perennial best-selling vehicle line in America, it is a major contributor to Ford's corporate profits.
This is a critical redesign, not just for Ford but for the entire full-size truck market as we enter an era of rapidly-increasing fuel efficiency standards, says senior analyst Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book. Ford needs to establish the F-150 as a future-friendly model that will keep pace with government regulations while still meeting the demands of serious truck buyers.
Ford has not yet announced EPA ratings for the new pickup but has suggested that it might approach 30 MPG in its highway rating, which would top competitors.
As for the serious truck buyers, Ford will be pitching to them that the new F-150 can carry more and tow more than its predecessor. The company said the new design had been tested for more than 10 million miles, including customers who cooperated in using the pickup in construction, mining and electric utility work. And the new truck successfully completed the grueling Baja 1,000 off-road race.
Houston truck enthusiasts will have a chance to see Ford's new model later this month at the 31st annual Houston Auto Show, which runs from Jan. 22-26. For information on the event, click here.