Good News, Bad News: The Saga Of The Ford F-150

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The Ford F-150 is the best selling pickup truck in the history of the world. By any measure, it is the perfect symbol for American attitudes about driving in the modern world. It’s big, bold, in-your-face styling appeals strongly to many American drivers who believe they have a God-given right to drive a 7,000 pound behemoth down to the local home improvement store to pick up a pound of finish nails while stopping for a latte along the way. Nothing says “Up yours” to treehuggers and climate change know-it-all’s like piloting an F-150 through the neighborhood.

XL Hybrids plug-in hybrid

XL Hybrids has a partial solution to the generally abysmal fuel economy of the F-150 — a plug-in hybrid conversion that bolts in directly to the powertrain of a many F-150 models including, 4 wheel drive versions. Once modified, the truck gets up to 50% better fuel economy while leaving the factory warranty intact. Slashing fuel costs by 50% is the sort of thing that gets fleet managers all jiggly inside. The conversion is a ship-through process. After the trucks leave the Ford factory, they are trucked to a conversion facility and then re-shipped to local dealers.

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The conversion is intended for commercial fleet operators like utility companies who operate as many as 400,000 F-150’s in America. As Jo Borras of Gas2 points out, improving the fuel economy of 400,000 trucks by as little as 1 mile per gallon could save millions of gallons of gasoline over their lifetime.

Diesel Cheating At Ford?

Other news about Ford pickup trucks is not so pleasant. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Michigan claims diesel-powered F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks actually emit 50 times the permitted level of nitrogen oxide. The suit was brought by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a national law firm that specializes in class action lawsuits. It alleges 58 violations of state consumer law, false advertising, and claims of racketeering. It also makes German supplier Robert Bosch a defendant in the suit. Bosch has extensive experience in diesel engine technology and has been implicated in the sweeping diesel cheating scandal that hit Volkswagen in 2015.

Ford tells Autoblog that all of its vehicles comply with EPA and CARB emissions regulations. “Ford vehicles do not have defeat devices. We will defend ourselves against these baseless claims, ” Ford says.

Diesel engines are still an important part of the light- and medium-duty pickup truck market. Ford has just added a diesel engine option to the F-150 lineup, a move that improves its highway fuel economy numbers from 26 mpg for the standard V-6 engine to 30 mpg for the diesel. Dodge also offers a diesel engine for its Ram 1500 that gets 30 mpg on the highway.

Whether or not Ford diesel Super Duty trucks comply with all applicable rules and regulations remains to be seen, but there can be little debate that diesel engines come with significant risk of emissions that threaten human health and the environment. Saving a few miles per gallon should not be an excuse for poisoning people or the atmosphere. Complaints about diesels spewing out huge quantities of nitrogen oxide emissions have been leveled against Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, Fiat, and General Motors. It’s hard to believe that all of those allegations are false.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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