DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is demonstrating the capabilities of its redesigned, aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 pickup to dealership sales personnel and consumers.
Sales consultants in 26 cities have begun testing the new truck and its features in a program called the “Built Ford Tough Roundup.” It runs through December, Ford said in a statement today.
From Oct. 11 to Dec. 21, consumers in 38 cities can take part in 20,000 test drives being offered by Ford. Product experts hired by Ford to explain the truck’s features will go along for the ride.
Ford is claiming best-in-class towing and payload capabilities for the new pickup. The company is eager to show off the performance benefits from its switch from steel to aluminum and educate customers who might be wary of aluminum’s ability to be as tough as steel.
Ford spokesman Mike Levine said the consumer drives could happen at shopping malls or big-box retail stores.
The new truck, which is up to 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing, steel-bodied F-150, can tow 12,200 pounds, about 900 pounds more than the truck it is replacing.
Maximum payload goes from 3,120 pounds on the 2014 F-150 to 3,300 pounds.
By comparison, a regular cab, two-wheel-drive version of the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado can tow 12,000 pounds and haul 1,980 pounds, according to Chevrolet’s website.
Ford is offering four engines for the new F-150, including a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Ford has not issued gas mileage figures for any of the new models. Levine says the truck should be EPA certified sometime in November.
In today’s statement, Ford gave some ballpark numbers, saying the new truck should deliver improvements ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent over the current truck.
Ford today listed performance numbers for the biggest of the four engines. The 5.0-liter V-8 engine will crank out 385 hp and 387 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 360 hp and 380 lb. ft. of torque on the current 5.0 V-8. Ford dropped the 6.2-liter V-8 for the new truck.
Ford is now converting its Dearborn Truck Plant to produce the 2015 F-150. Once workers finish that conversion and production ramps up, Ford will then shut down its other F-150 plant, in Kansas City, and repeat the conversion in the first quarter of 2015.
Ford has notified dealers that they should receive stock orders in December but that retail and fleet orders are not likely to arrive before February.
Ford will be encouraging walk-up participation. Consumers can pre-register at F150drive.com.