For vocational fleets, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. With the introduction of the MY-2016 Ford F-650/F-750, the automaker is recognizing that fact by giving fleets a menu of options.
But, more important is the fact that, for the new model-year, the F-650/F-750 is now a 100-percent Ford truck, said Mark Lowrey, marketing manager for F-Series fleet trucks for Ford Motor Co.
“The prior truck was a joint venture between the Ford Motor Co. and Navistar. This vehicle for the 2016 model-year will be designed and manufactured completely by Ford, and all the components are 100-percent Ford. In the past, the vehicles were assembled in a joint venture with Navistar, and, for the engines, we used a Cummins engine and an Allison transmission. With this particular model line, we’re using all Ford powertrains as well,” he explained.
This gives fleet customers a number of advantages.
“From a manufacturing perspective, the entire truck is being held to the standards of the Ford Motor Co., so in other words, the same quality processes that we use to build our F-150s, our Super Duties, and even our passenger cars have been applied to this truck,” Lowrey said. “And, it’s going to be assembled at the Ohio Assembly Plant, which is the most fleet-friendly plant in the country. We’ve been producing the E-Series vans, cutaways, and stripped chassis there for a number of years.”
This will give fleets better visibility throughout the ordering and assembly process, Lowrey noted — again, because it is being routed through Ford processes.
The F-650/F-750 has found a home in a number of vocational fleets, including the construction and landscape industries, where it has a dominant presence, according to Mike Levine, truck communications manager for Ford Motor Co.
“We’re No. 1 in both those segments,” he said.
The truck models also have a presence in tree service, towing and recovery, and beverage fleets.
“We’re very excited to be part of the beverage industry,” Lowrey said. “We have the beverage trucks that are built on the pro-loader, straight truck frame, but, now, we have the ability to go after the companies that use trailers with our F-750 tractor.”
Lowrey also noted that there is “tremendous” amount of interest from the rental side of the business.
“It’s because of the gasoline engine and the box truck configuration,” he said.
Lowrey credits this overall interest to the upswing in the economy.
“In 2008 and 2009, the entire industry experienced a lot of problems. We lost a lot of volume. The truck segments were hit especially hard because of the downturn in the economy. We’re seeing a resurgence in just about every vocation,” he said.
The F-650/F-750 are offered in Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab styles, and in straight-frame, dock-height, and an all-new dedicated tractor model for heavy towing applications.
The area behind the cab was redesigned to more easily accommodate custom work bodies, such as tow trucks, dump trucks, and ambulance bodies.
The MY-2016 F-650/F-750 will be available during the summer of 2015.
Showcasing Power Options
For MY-2016, the F-650/F-750 is available with either a diesel or gasoline engine.
The available 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 turbo diesel engine is paired with a commercial-grade 6-speed Ford TorqShift HD automatic transmission optimized for medium-duty vocations.
“A big benefit of the diesel engine is that it’s a Ford-designed engine along with the transmission, so the entire truck is engineered from front to back as a Ford vehicle and it’s integrated that way,” Levine said. “The engine is available with three power settings, so the customer will be able to choose which horsepower and torque best meets their needs. At the entry level, we have best-in-class standard diesel horsepower and torque. At the upper side, unlike some of the other trucks that are out there, we don’t put vocational limits on the power ratings for the engine that may limit only limit their top horsepower and torque to an emergency vehicle package. Whatever best fits your needs, you can choose the power settings for that truck.”
Three diesel power levels are available for the F-650/F-750: 270 hp/675 lb.-ft. of torque, 300 hp/700 lb.-ft. of torque, and 330 hp/725 lb.-ft. of torque.
The diesel engine comes with a five-year/250,000-mile warranty.
The available 6.8L V-10 gasoline engine was introduced for the MY-2014 F-650, but it proved so successful with customers who also wanted it for the F-750 that Ford has added it to its range of options for the MY-2016 F-750.
Having the exact options that the fleet needs is a recurring theme when discussing the F-650/F-750.
“We’re making it easier for our customers,” Lowrey said. “For 2015, we had the XL version and the XLT version. We have since offered freestanding options, which allow the customers to pick the features they want without being put into a pre-programmed set of features that they may not want.”
This cafeteria-style of choosing options is aided on the dealer side by the company’s commercial vehicle tool (CVT), which can be used during the spec’ing process to help mix and match the features in the most optimal way.
“It’s not uncommon for this class of truck to try to spec features that don’t go together, so our CVT assists the customer and the dealer in understanding how to build the best vehicle for their needs, because it keeps track of the gross vehicle weight, and the gross combined weight, what it can tow, so we can ensure you get the right truck,” Lowrey said.
Having (Alt-Fuel) Options
Ford will continue offering the F-650/F-750 with a gaseous prep package.
According to Levine, hardening and prepping the engine costs approximately $315.
Fleets that want to convert their F-650/F-750 models to operate on either propane autogas or compressed natural gas (CNG) can do so through one of the automaker’s qualified vehicle modifiers (QVMs). A QVM will change the fuel tanks, lines, and injectors so the fleet can use an alt fuel. The advantage of making the modifications through a QVM is that Ford will continue to honor the powertrain warranty in the event of a failure, according to Levine.
Even if a fleet doesn’t opt to use an alt fuel, getting the gaseous fuel prep package has other benefits.
“We’re seeing a lot of fleets order this option even if they don’t intend to use it for the resale benefits,” Lowrey said.
Upfitting for Efficiency
The F-650/F-750 models are designed to make upfitting easy and efficient, according to Lowrey.
“What’s wonderful about this new vehicle is the clean cab-to-axle,” he said. “We went to great lengths to make sure that the frame rails behind the cab are as easily upfittable or accommodating to upfits as possible, so we routed brake lines and electrical lines away from the mounting rails. We also had additional mounting holes and brackets that can be mounted on the frame very easily.”
This is only one factor helping the automaker maximize order-to-delivery times.
“The sheer fact that we’re engaging the entire Ford network in the assembly of this vehicle — that’s going to help order-to-delivery in terms of assembling the vehicle, putting it on a dedicated shipping, and getting it out to our customers. And, it’s all in the U.S.,” Lowrey added.
Serving as a Mobile Office
For many vocational fleet drivers, the F-650/F-750 models they drive are their offices on wheels, and the MY-2016 models offer them something previous models didn’t: a bit of peace and quiet.
The models equipped with the 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 diesel are significantly quieter than the previous model-year’s models that were similarly equipped.
“We compared the 2016 diesel to the 2015 diesel, and inside the cab the decibel level is 45-percent quieter at idle and 25-percent quieter at 60 mph,” Lowrey said. “Quietness at idle is really important because a number of vocations use these trucks as a mobile office or as a sanctuary in inclement weather. When it’s cold outside, they use it to stay warm, and, when it’s hot outside, they use it for cooling. And, standing outside the vehicle, it’s 35-percent quieter, and that’s important for vocations that use it in and around residential areas.”
Lowrey noted that this improved sound-dampening aligns the F-650/F-750 with the interior qualities that would be found in other Ford vehicles, particularly passenger vehicles.