According to a story in The Detroit News, Ford has crossed the 100,000 sales threshold for EcoBoost F-150 pickups. This represents a new milestone for the first turbocharged gasoline truck.
The EcoBoost is an interesting powerplant and one of the key reasons this truck was named the Autobytel 2012 Truck of the Year. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 makes 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while achieving 16/22 mpg city/highway with a 4x2 drivetrain (15/21 mpg with the 4x4.) The power feels almost as instant as a Taurus SHO, possibly because they share similar EcoBoost engines. More importantly, the torque is almost diesel-like with plenty of grunt available below 2,000 rpm, and the peak coming soon after at 2,500 rpm.
This sales success is not only a pat on the back to the engineers who created arguably one of the best power/fuel efficiency truck motor packages, but also this is a big score for Ford's marketing team. There was a lot of time and funds invested in convincing the truck-buying public that a turbocharged gasoline engine could be utilized in a pickup.
The F-150 EcoBoost was a bit of a gamble for Ford. Although turbo diesels have been an accepted part of the truck culture for decades, it was once viewed that turbocharging a gas engine would leave a truck short on all-important torque. To prove to purists that the EcoBoost F-150 is a capable truck, Ford went on a nationwide tour and offered test drives directly to consumers using EcoBoost trucks that were carrying loads.
The EcoBoost also came at the correct time. In a year where truck annual figures will likely be down, the EcoBoost has helped keep sales afloat. Ford touted the fuel efficiency angle of the EcoBoost truck around the same time as fears began about a summer of $4 per gallon gas. Once the fuel price fears subsided, consumers still found appeal with the EcoBoost engine. The Detroit News states that since May, the EcoBoost still accounts for 40 percent or more of Ford's monthly F-150 sales.
This is not a case of Ford buyers opting for the EcoBoost because it was the only available choice for decent power. Those who do not want a turbocharged V-6 could have similar power and towing capacity with an optional 5.0-liter V-8. This engine makes 5 less hp, 40 less lb-ft of torque, and is rated 1 mpg less in most categories than the EcoBoost. The 5.0 V-8 is also a savings of $900 to $1,200 depending on option packaging. Still, buyers have a preference this year for the more expensive turbo engine.
The EcoBoost F-150 is a step ahead in trucks, but not a leap forward. Crunch the numbers on the extra cost of the EcoBoost, and it may take a while for the added fuel mileage to pay its owners back. Plus, the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and (Dodge) RAM 1500 trucks have V-8s that offer similar power figures to the EcoBoost and are within a few mpgs.
What the EcoBoost has accomplished is it has created a starting gun for the truck industry to show that a turbo gas trucks can be a capable player in the field. This sales milestone proves why will be seeing other manufactures following the EcoBoost's lead. The era of the turbocharged gasoline pickup is here.