Ford Motor will reveal the next generation of its commercially successful F-150 pickup truck in next week. The model offers a new sleeper-seat feature and over-the-air software updates in a machine the automaker is counting on to help pay off coronavirus-related debts.
The new F-150, part of the best-selling vehicle line in the United States, is responsible for $50 billion in annual revenue, and a major share of the automaker’s annual profit. While Tesla Inc and General Motors have moved quicker on over-the-air software upgrades and high-speed in-vehicle data networks, the new F-150 will bring such technology directly into the mainstream.
The new truck, expected to release later in 2020, is a critical part in Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley’s plan to cut $5 billion in warranty costs, speed Ford’s push into vehicle connectivity, and add to the automaker’s already-strong position in the North American commercial automobile market.
Ford has borrowed over $20 billion to ride out the economic shock over coronavirus pandemic. Profit from the new F-150 will be important for paying that money back.
The automaker is not taking big risks with the exterior look of the new truck since its sales dominance, instead of focusing on improving the interior, according to those who have observed it. Ford has planned to publicly show the vehicle for the first time on June 25. It will be an online event.
“It’s really about technology and productivity,” Farley stated at a Deutsche Bank conference on June 10.
One significant feature will be the lay-flat passenger seat such as those observed in first-class cabins on some planes, a person knowledgeable about the plans stated. “You can basically live in the truck,” the person said.
Ford’s nicer interior, consisting of a larger display screen, follows the same move by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) with its new Ram truck, which received positive reviews for its stylish interior and additional 12-inch display screen.
“Ram taught everybody a little bit of a lesson,” stated Rhett Ricart, owner of Ricart Ford in Columbus, Ohio. “The old 5-inch screen for your navigation and radio controls is gone. They’re all going to be 10-, 12-, 15-inch screens. That was started by Tesla.”
The F-150’s new electrical architecture will permit the automaker to provide over-the-air updates to major modules controlling the vehicle, replacing trips to the dealership.
The new truck’s connectivity will be helpful in increasing sales to commercial customers, and decrease warranty costs, Farley informed investors.
The F-Series truck has been around since 1948, while the F-150 launched in 1975. Sales of the present version continue to remain strong despite being an old model, and the new model could help Ford hold or even build its position in the sector.
Farley has been visiting the plants situated in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, that will build the new F-150. Despite delays associated with the coronavirus, he said the launch is in “really good shape”.