Ford Motor Co. has introduced its 2016 F-650 and F-750 trucks in a trade show in Indianapolis. The new versions of two medium-duty commercial trucks will be the first in years to be built without the help of Navistar International Corp., Cummins Inc. or Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. Ford will build them at its Avon Lake site Ohio with all the chassis, engine and transmissions built in-house.
For years, the two trucks were built on chassis produced by a joint venture with Navistar, using diesel engines supplied by Cummins and transmissions from Allison. According to Ford executives, bringing the components back in-house will cut costs and simplify service issues when they arise.
The production shift to the United States is good news to most of the 1,600 UAW-represented workers at the Ohio plant as they were on the brink of undergoing mass layoffs as the carmaker has largely phased out the E-Series "Econoline" van currently built in the site.
Ford’s move to shift medium-duty truck production back to the US means that only a few hundred UAW members will have lose their jobs. The F-650 and F-750 could be availed with either a new 6.7-liter V-8 diesel or a V-10 gasoline engine.
The V10 could be factory-modified to operate on compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas. Ford will no longer offer customers the option of having their trucks fitted by a 6.7-liter turbo diesel built by Cummins.
Ford is discontinuing that engine as the carmaker brings the truck's key content in-house. Ford have also made vehicles undergo major redesigns, placing key components under the cab instead of behind the cab or on the frame. Ford said this change will allow buyers to customize their trucks easier. The 2016 F-650 and F-750 trucks will become available in the spring of 2015.
Ford revealed that the 2016 F-650/F-750 may be its toughest medium-duty truck yet. Powering this model is the brand’s very own Power Stroke 6.7-liter V8 engine, which is powered by diesel. It is then coupled with the automatic six-speed commercial-grade 6R140 transmission which has that extra power takeoff provision. As such, it can run accessories in the crane, dump body, field, or any other vocational equipment.
The brand said as well that prior to being released for sale, the new model will undergo extreme testing by both machines and people. Testing will not be limited in the laboratories but will also be done on the brand’s proving grounds and even on the city roads and highways of the U.S. One of the tests to be conducted will have the truck undergo simulation of the different demands that customers will have throughout the vehicle’s useful life.
This includes towing on steep grades heavy trailers with temperatures ranging from a low of 40 degrees below zero to a high of at least 50 degrees Celsius. It will also simulate carrying heavy loads through Death Valley, one of the hottest areas on the planet. To be tested as well will be the brand’s robotic test driving program. This program is at present being used in Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds located in Romeo, Michigan.
The goal is to see if the truck is able to meet the demands of the more taxing Built Ford Tough testing. Under this test, the vehicle will be robotically driven in order to perform tests in a repeated manner on torturous surfaces.
As such, it can compress a decade of daily drive abuse in merely a few hundred yards. The surfaces of this test will have oversized speed bumps, mud pits, rough gravel, metal grates, cobblestones, and broken concrete, to name a few.
According to Dave Payne, currently the Manager for Vehicle Development Operations, some of the tests being conducted on the commercial trucks are so demanding that the brand often limits the actual exposure time of its human drivers. This is especially true, he said, for trucks that are to be released in North America.