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Ford Focuses on Improving F-150 Fuel Economy; Up to 21 mpg Highway in Special Edition

The F-150 SFE edition delivers up to 21 mpg highway while still providing 7,500 pounds of towing capability. Click to enlarge.

Ford has introduced the new 2009 F-150 full-size pickup with a focus on improved fuel economy, which is up an average of 8% across the entire line-up as a result of a number of engineering enhancements. The fuel economy gains reach as high as 12% versus the prior model year on F-150 models equipped with the high-volume 3-valve, 5.4-liter V-8 engine. At the same time, the new F-150 delivers class-leading towing capability of 11,300 pounds and hauling capacity of 3,030 pounds.

In addition, Ford is introducing a new F-150 SFE (superior fuel economy) edition that delivers up to 21 mpg on the highway while still providing 7,500 pounds of towing capability.

Pickup trucks have maintained a fairly steady 13-16% market shared since 1975. Click to enlarge. Source: EPA

Characteristics of the pickup truck market. The pickup truck segment has maintained a 13-16% annual new vehicle market share since 1975, according to data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the most consistent segment in the market.

All pickups held a 13.1% new vehicle market share in 1975, with a projected 12.9% share in 2008—although the latter figure may drop based on actual results this year (earlier post).

Pickup sales fraction by vehicle size. Click to enlarge. Source: EPA

Within the pickup segment, large pickups hold the largest fraction—as they did in 1975. (The intervening years saw a surge in mid-size pickups, which then tapered off.)

The entire pickup market has seen a rapid increase in average weight, accompanied by increased power and performance, and lower composite fuel economy, since the mid 1980s. The mid-size pickup segment increased its average adjusted fuel economy by 6% between 1975 and 2008. By contrast, the large pickup segment has seen an average improvement of 44% in fuel economy from 1975 to 2008, according to EPA data.

Pickup truck fuel economy and performance. Click to enlarge. Source: EPA

From 1988 to 2008, average fuel economy for the entire pickup segment has decreased 9%. Average fuel economy for mid-size pickups dropped 10% during that period, while the average fuel economy for large, full-size pickups increased 5%. Average composite adjusted fuel economy for the large pickup segment in 2008 is 16.0 mpg US, according to the EPA.

The 2009 F-150s. The 8% improvement in fuel economy across the entire lineup of V-8 F-150s is the result of using lightweight ultra-high-strength steel to lighten the truck up to 100 pounds versus the current model as well as aerodynamic refinements.

The new F-150 is now best-in-class for aerodynamics. The new F-150 SuperCrew 4X2 with a 5.5-foot box has the lowest coefficient of drag—.403—in the segment, according to Ford. That’s 6% lower than a comparable 2008 F-150.

Key aero improvements for the new F-150 include:

  • A new chamfered shape to the rear of the cab, which incorporated the center-high-mount stop lamp. This shape helps direct aerodynamic wake over the pickup box efficiently.

  • The top of the tailgate, which angles outward to create a bold lip. This wider surface at the top of the tailgate works with the cab chamfering to direct airflow over the box efficiently.

  • The front bumper valence and spoiler design, which has been improved to better manage airflow underneath the truck without compromising off-roading.

In addition, as part of the fuel economy improvements, Ford’s powertrain team delivered technology upgrades to make the F-150 powertrains more efficient.

The new six-speed automatic transmission offers a wider gear ratio span than four-speed transmissions, allowing engineers the flexibility to have responsiveness in low gears and better fuel economy in the taller gears. The new double-overdrive gearbox is designed to contribute a 4 to 6% fuel economy improvement.

Both the 5.4-liter and 4.6-liter 3-valve V-8 engines utilize open valve injection. This unique feature improves the air/fuel charge conditions in the combustion chamber, allowing greater spark advance at higher loads and engine speeds. This delivers increased horsepower during towing and higher rpm operations, lower emissions and more efficient use of fuel.

The F-150 also regulates gas consumption by using aggressive deceleration fuel shut-off. The fuel shut-off is automatic and requires no unusual actions from the driver. When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, the system temporarily turns off the fuel. The flow of fuel seamlessly resumes when the truck reaches a low speed or the driver accelerates again.

To prevent engine hesitation normally associated with fuel interruption, Ford’s powertrain team developed proprietary software to integrate the technology with the F-150’s powertrains.

F-150 SFE. The new SFE package will be available on F-150 SuperCrew XL and XLT 4X2 vehicles with 4.6-liter, 3-valve V-8 engines and 5.5-foot beds. The SFE pickup will achieve 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

The SFE package trucks also feature a new fuel-efficient six-speed automatic transmission, a 3.15:1 rear axle and 18-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels with low rolling resistance P265/60R18 all-season tires.

The SFE package will be a no-cost option on XLT SuperCrew pickups with the chrome package and will cost $1,095 when ordered on XL SuperCrew pickups with the decor package.

Through August, the F-Series accounted for 25.4% of all Ford’s US sales in 2008, down from 27.5% for the same eight-month period in 2007. Quantitatively, F-Series sales have dropped 25.2% to a total 359,971 units for the eight months in 2008 from the same period in 2007.

Fuel economy has moved from 10th to third place (behind durability and value) among pickup buyers’ top purchase considerations, according to Ford.




The work side of things is the important side for trucks like this. The others are a sideshow. A flighty bunch that will soon leave for something else. Some new in thing.

Look at the percentage of the fleet that consists of trucks (non-suv). Referencing the charts here on greencarcongress it seems quite obvious that not nearly as many people are using these vehicles as commuter vehicles as you may believe. The percentage of the fleet appears to have remained nearly the same over the past 30 years...are there a small segment of the population whom buys these vehicles as everyday vehicles? Sure, but not as many as you may think [even in a place like Texas where driving a truck is almost a status symbol].

Now lets see. Take your average truck, unladen, and force the manufacturers to hamper the acceleration such that 0-60 takes 13 seconds. Now give that truck a 3000 to 5000lb load to tow and try to merge on the highway. I see many accidents looming or great expense in adding an extra lane to highways to give more room for merging lanes.

Will S

>Look at the percentage of the fleet that consists of trucks (non-suv). Referencing the charts here on greencarcongress it seems quite obvious that not nearly as many people are using these vehicles as commuter vehicles as you may believe.

The data doesn't show that, so I don't believe it for a moment, especially in Texas where "driving a truck is almost a status symbol".



Yes you need some power to work with a truck, but I didn't propose to limit power of truck, I proposed to limit acceleration to 13S from 0to60MPH, that is a different thing. You can electronically limit acceleration and not limit power right, so if you truck is loaded it will requires 300HP to accelerate from 0-60MPH in 13S and if it is unloaded it will requires only 150HP, the electronic will just limit the acceleration at low load. same thing for the speed.

I see countless pick up driving around every-day and 90% have an empty tipper. 50% of pick up have a tipper that is so clean that I doubt they ever carried anything in their life.

Will, go look again. You misread the data. The percentage of the fleet is the same over the last 30 years. Arguing against FACT does not make it disappear as much as you and religionists wish to believe so.


my guess is it's pretty hard to lower the mpg on such a piece of engine.


Keep on the good work guys


Getting someone to use a 21mpg truck verses an 18 mpg truck saves 119 gallons of gasoline of gasoline per year (assuming 15,000 miles traveled per year).

This is more than the 95 gallons of gasoline per year someone will save by buying a hybrid civic (45 mpg) instead of a non-hybrid civic (35 mpg).


Thank you, DMP Very good point in a thread full of crap.

stas peterson

What will you anti-American, self- loathing snobs do when there will be no question that all the world's automakers, including Detroit, will be producing more efficient, high mileage vehicles of all sizes? Vehhicles wihich remove America's dependence ona limited resource like petroleum.

Or will you continue to criticize even though they produce vehicles that get 30% better mileage today,and wil have vehicles that double that in a few years, than in the mid 1970s?

The end of the petroleum availability issue is much closer to solution, than when it emerged as a problem in the mid-1970s.

What will you do when your tin god of GAIA is revealed to have feet of clay and Global Warming is accepted by all, as it has been by the scientists, as a hypothesis which has been disproved and discredited?

What will you do when America claims victory in our multi-decadal battle to clean our air, water, and land? That is not far off, despite your nonsense.

What will you screech about then?


At 15,000 mi/yr, the 21 MPG truck saves 119 gallons over the 18 MPG truck.

At the same mileage, the 35 MPG Civic saves 286 gallons over the 21 MPG truck, 405 gallons over the 18 MPG truck.

Before the SUV craze, trucks were about 1/3 of the US market.  It should be no more than this, probably less.  Getting people out of trucks is imperative.

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