TRUCK TRACKS

Ford still aiming for heavy-duty sales

Article December 28, 2000
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Just about everything except the name has been changed in the Ford truck line for 1999.

Long gone are heavy-duty models with GVW ratings of 33,001 lb and up, which were sold to Freightliner Corp. A GVW rating is the safe limit on the combined weight of a truck, its body and payload.

Clearly divided in the new Ford lineup are the lighter models which sell in volume, often for personal use, three series of progressively stronger midrange working trucks and two robust top-of-the-line series at the high end of the medium-duty class.

Midrange models are in the F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 series. Their GVW ratings span the area from 8,500 to 20,000 lb.

The line is topped off with Class 6 and Class 7 trucks that go up to 33,000 lb GVW, which is as high as medium trucks go. The trucks are to be assembled in factories in the Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Valencia, Venezuela areas.

Ford Truck characterized its 1999 midrange models, built on a platform that is different from that used in making the line’s light-duty units, as “all-new” trucks.

Included in the lineup are trucks with such specialized features as four-wheel drive, crew cabs, four-door Super Cabs and new 10-cylinder gasoline engines.

Furthermore, Ford said the new engines for 1999 deliver more horsepower, higher torque and better fuel economy.

Appealing to the varied wishes of truck buyers, the new midrange models were said to come in 44 configurations, 21 of which are new and 15 of which were said to be unique in the industry.

The all-new, top-of-the-line F-650 and F-750 offerings are being introduced as 2000 models. Power choices include the Cummins 5.9L ISB, Caterpillar 3126E and Ford’s 7.3-liter PowerStroke diesel.

A rating of 26,000 lb applies to the Class 6 Super Duty F-650 model. That’s the highest GVW rating that can be operated in most states without a special commercial driver’s license.

All three diesel offerings are electronically controlled and 50-state emissions certified. The Cummins and Cat diesels can be serviced by any Cummins- or Cat-certified diesel dealership. Most Ford dealers also can service the trucks.

“We found that a vast majority of multiple-truck owners prefer to buy within the same brand and even from the same dealer,” said Barb Samardzich, Super Duty F-650 and F-750 chief program engineer.

To date, the Ford mediums have been tailored for straight truck applications or to serve as transportation platforms for cranes and similar equipment.

Crew-cab models stand out in all of the new Ford series, making them ideal for transporting work crews of modest size to job sites.

In addition to those increasingly popular diesel engines in Ford F-650s and F-750s, the trucks offer a choice of six manual transmissions from Eaton and Spicer, plus three automatics from Allison.

“The latter make driving easier for operators at all skill levels,” Samardzich commented.

Ford also said these and a wide selection of other components make it easy to tailor one of the new models for a variety of specialized jobs.

Ready-mix action

Just as production of this issue of ROADS & BRIDGES was nearing completion, a new program in the ready-mix truck field was announced.

Volvo Trucks of America and London Machinery of London, Ontario, Canada, said they are offering ready-mix chassis and mixer bodies as a package.

Initial sales of the truck and body combinations are being made in five southern states, with distribution in all states expected by September. The Mix Smart units consist of a chassis based on Volvo WG64F models with 10-speed Fuller transmission, a 335-hp Cummins engine and a 10.5-yd mixer from London.

Expanded efforts by the federal government to improve and extend American highways are expected to lead to a minimum of a 25%increase in highway construction projects.

“That means highway construction companies will need additional equipment quickly,” said Frank Bio, Volvo director of truck and vocational marketing.

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