Saturday, June 2, 2007
2009 Ford F-150
The master cladders at Ford Motor Company have left almost everything to the imagination with this spy shot of the next-generation F-Series pickup, which is expected to debut for the 2009 model year.
But as the truck moves into final confirmation prototypes, a number of them were caught road testing—in three cab configurations. Spotted in Detroit have been standard short cab, extended cab (like the one pictured here), and four-door crew cab ’09 versions, suggesting Ford will be ready to rumble with a full lineup when the trucks launch next year.
The few glimpses through the cladding reveal a large three-bar grille, and it appears the headlights of the new F-150 will not share the tall, stacked treatment given the new Super Duties.
We admit, we were surprised last October when Ford, in delivering the grim news of layoffs and plant closures in its updated Way Forward restructuring plan, added fairy dust with the announcement it was redoing the pickup.
The current generation launched for ’04 as what amounted to five different pickups, each with distinct interiors to appeal to diverse buyers—including, for the first time, luxury vehicle buyers. Ford was acting on research that said luxury buyers want maximum luxury, sportier guys want ultra sport, and buyers of a base truck want it really stripped down.
While every variant offered the standard three-across seating in front, the current-generation F-150 was the first to offer a center console in a pickup, a nod to the luxurious side of truck ownership that the Lariat was designed to tap into. The spy shots of the pending trucks show a generous center armrest with plenty of storage.
Ford launched the current F-Series with the lofty goal of selling 1 million annually, with plants in Dearborn, Norfolk, Virginia, and Kansas City tooled up for the challenge. It was a bold goal, given that the pickup had averaged 800,000 per year over the previous five.
And, in the end, it proved mission impossible. The closest Ford came to the million mark was in 2004, when the new truck was fresh and exciting, and the automaker sold 891,000 light duties and 940,000 with heavies added. Sales have tapered off ever since, and through April of this year, light-duty F-Series deliveries are running 10.4 percent behind year-ago’s pace, according to Wards Automotive Reports data.
The F-150 is the automaker’s single-largest profit contributor, at about $5,000 per unit on annual sales in the 800,000 range—which means Ford can’t afford not to redo its bread-and-butter vehicle.