• Oct 16th 2008 at 11:30AM
  • 29
Click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Ford F-150

Ford's reported decision to put its long-awaited light-duty diesel truck engine on ice for the time being could well be a result of slowing truck sales and the rising cost of diesel fuel. Indeed, the Blue Oval's pickup sales are down by about 27% compared to last year and are a far cry from what they were a few short years ago. That downward trend in sales is partly blamed on the recent rise in fuel prices, and diesel fuel has outpaced gasoline in its upward spiral. So, while diesel engines are inherently more fuel efficient than those running on gasoline, that pricing difference is usually only made up when a truck is used for heavy hauling and towing – one reason the expensive oil-burners prove so popular in the largest of trucks. Ford's not so sure any longer that drivers of its non Super-Duty trucks want or need a smaller diesel engine option. So, for now, Ford's 4.4-liter diesel V8 has been shelved.

Though not in the full-size truck segment for nearly as long, Toyota's Tundra has seen sales declines much steeper than the pickups from Ford, and the Japanese automaker has also put its diesel V8 on hold. General Motors is still on track to launch its 4.5-liter oil-burner, as is Chrysler with a Cummins-built 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8. These relatively small diesels are expected to average about 25% better fuel economy than their gasoline brethren while offering a power improvement of 10-15%. Ford believes it can offer similar performance benefits with its EcoBoost series of engines, one of which is slated for the F-Series trucks in 2010, for a smaller surcharge. We'll see.

[Source: PickupTrucks.com]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      The definition of "demand" has changed and that is the problem it seems to me. These companies are simply backpeddling and rightfully so. "Light duty" trucks with gas V8 engines now pull in the 10,000 pound range for many of them. In fact, the line is now blurred as to what is heavy duty and what is light duty. It seems the heavy duty truck is almost dead except for the really high end with 5th wheel hitches, plowing and weight over 10k. Oh wait, that's how it used to be just a few years ago.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ahh yes, the price we pay for not looking ahead.

      Do you realize that if Ford's management had any brains they would develop the very same truck but that delivered 5-7 more MPGs, it would allow them grab HUGE share of the market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is yet another example of why the Big 3 are going down the tubes. Every time, and I mean every time they make a diesel available in a truck, demand exceeds expectation. Even when they charge outrageous $5-6000 premiums, like they do on the 3/4 ton diesels now. But because the Big 3 are run by accountants, they look at the cost benefit analysis of the diesel for a consumer and decide no consumer would want to pay for it. They are wrong. But then again they are always wrong. Not everything has to "cost out" for it to be desirable. Only accountants think that way. Maybe I'm steamed because I don't believe for a second that this ecoboost nonsense is all it's cracked up to be.

      Another thing that drives me nuts is their dictum that every vehicle they make has to make a sure thing profit from DAY ONE. Remember Lutz and his bellyaching about the Prius and how Toyota was losing money on it? Well, they did. And now, after establishing a beachhead, Toyota is reaping a fortune off of it. You have to plant the seeds to grow something and you don't get paid until harvest time. Ford, GM, Chrysler always want to get paid at planting time.

      One question. How is it that the diesel premium on my Jetta was only around $1500, yet Chevy charges more than $5000 for a diesel in their 3/4 ton pickups. Could someone clue me in?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Are you really comparing a small 4 cylinder diesel to one used in a work truck? Are you serious? You know your Jetta engine is designed to haul about 4000 lbs max and the 3/4 ton and up truck engines are designed to haul up to 29,000 lbs right?

        I've got news for you, these automakers are businesses, they're in it for the money. The planting time is when development starts, 3 years or more prior to launch, not when the vehicle goes on sale.

        Toyota only took a loss on one vehicle, the Prius, they did so because they thought the domestics were too far ahead in development of alternative engergy vehicles and they wanted to be ready if the domestics followed through (which they didn't- watch Who Killed the Electric Car). Their government also ponied up money to help the dev costs.

        The rest of their lineup was and is expected to start paying back engineering and development costs immediately. That's the way it works, they need to make a profit out the door to pay for all of their costs that have already been outlayed up front.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "How is it that the diesel premium on my Jetta was only around $1500, yet Chevy charges more than $5000 for a diesel in their 3/4 ton pickups. Could someone clue me in?"

        Because Chevy can rape the small businessman that way.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Because that massive Chevy engine has to have much larger and more expensive emissions cleaning systems than your Jetta to meet Tier II, Bin 5 standards. The cleaning system alone is probably $2-3k more.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am sorry but are you a builder or a farmer if not why would you want a heavy duty pick-up . This is what i think of american pick-up truck owners .

        • 6 Years Ago
        i am sorry but i did not ment to post that post above please can the people at auto blog delete it .
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ford, thank you for making the choice easier for me. I will purchase a Chevrolet with the 4.5L diesel.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I had to go back and read this article several times. I thought the byline was July, not October.

      perhaps someone has several YouTube videos of all the "experts" who told us in July that oil would be $250/barrel by Labor Day. where are all those "experts" today? advisors to the McCain campaign?

      "rising cost of diesel fuel?" huh? I can't speak for everyone, but here in Arizona, the highest price I've seen for diesel at an interstate truck stop was $3.28 per gallon yesterday. gasoline dropped here yesterday BY TEN CENTS PER GALLON. in one day. in most places, it's down to $2.87 per gallon, and still dropping.

      I hope the manufacturers have the capacity to ramp up their pickup and SUV production quickly. I think they'll need to.

      it's always interesting to see all the Chicken Littles screaming "the sky is falling" when fuel prices climb, as though they'll never come down. guess what, folks; they always do, and the same thing has happened since the first fuel crisis back in the fall of 1973.

      at that time I was 19 years old, and jumped onto the small car bandwagon like everyone else did. six months later, that small car got traded for a full-size one. 6'3" doesn't fit into a Mustang II as well as it does in an LTD. every time another crisis comes, it's always funny to see how many people make the same mistake, trading the full size vehicle they need for the teeny one they will hate in a very short time.

      we're seeing the same think happen again now. used SUV and truck prices are firming up, and new small car inventories are getting very bloated.

      I would look for the small Ford diesel to be available by 2010 at the latest.

        • 6 Years Ago
        It's funny how prices vary. The station on the corner has gas for $2.70. Diesel is $4.00. That's a massive 48% difference.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Diesel is still almost a dollar more per gallon around here when compared to regular.
      • 6 Years Ago
      But again, what if I gave you a gas engine option with ratings of 350/400 - the 400 available from 2000 rpm that delivered basically the same gas mileage as a diesel for about $3-4k less? You'd lack some of the torque but have more than enough for towing the 11,000 lbs that the frame/suspension is rated for. The engine itself would be designed much as a diesel is, so you could expect better mileage during towing just like on a diesel.

      So, my question really - and this is likely Ford's question - is it the *diesel* that you want? Or an engine with the performance characteristics of a diesel for much less money?
      • 6 Years Ago
      :( I was really looking forward to this. Odds just significantly tilted to my next truck being a Chevy/GMC.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well Ford may have just officially handed the F150's sales crown to the Silverado with this move.

      If you were towing would you rather have a 310hp+/550lb-ft+ diesel or a peaky turbo V6 gasser with far less torque? Plus the image of a big brutish diesel is just better than a turbo-six for a truck.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If Ford shelves this, Dodge will rake them over the coals with their new diesel. The current 6.7L is being replaced with a 5.6L that is said to have close to 600ft/lbs, and the V6 for the 1/2 tons will be a 4.2L with 450-ish ft/lbs. Rumor is that the Ram 1500 w/ the 4.2 will get around 25mpg, which I consider excellent for a full size truck.

      AS for the comments about what is a half ton, I agree. Trucks have gotten much bigger than needed to get the job done. My Dakota is rated at 7,000 lbs for towing, although I wouldn't test that theory due to the braking issue. Luckily Daks come pre-wired for electric trailer brakes, but still, I could never see pulling more than 5,000 lbs (the weight of my Dart on a car trailer).
        • 6 Years Ago
        That bigger is better mentality is what got the US auto makers in trouble in the first place.

        The old 5.9L was making 610 ft/lbs, and is capable of MUCH more (my friend has one making 1300). But, to meet the new emissions levels without loosing power, they basically made it bigger (6.7), then detuned it. The result is a bigger engine that does NOT make more power, with lower fuel economy just to pass federal muster.

        Now, keep in mind the basic 5.9L I-6 has been around for decades, and just has it's performance limits when it comes to cleanliness. Wider bores do not burn as clean as smaller bores, nor burn as efficient (the whole reason the original Viper 8.0L was a 360 with extra cylinders...more or less). The new 5.6 is a smaller engine, with a significant improvement in economy due to smaller bores and better overall design. The 5.6 will also be considerably lighter. The current 6.7 weighs over 1000 lbs by itself, I have read the 5.6 will be roughly 200 lbs lighter, plus the extra 2 cylinders will help it run smoother.

        All while giving up only a small amount of usable torque. Really, if you can't pull it effectively with 590, 650 ft/lbs ain't gonna do it either. I'm sure the hot shot drivers would gladly give up 60 ft/lbs if it meant gaining 3-5 mpg....even 1 mpg can make a huge difference in truck driving.

        Also, towing EVEN MORE than they can currently goes right back to the previous arguments that there is a practical limit to what a "pickup" should be towing. Half tons like the F-150 should NOT be pulling 11,000 lbs, and I don't think I would ever put 20,000 behind a 1 ton. GO buy a small Freightliner FL50/70 with a 3126 CAT if you need capable pulling power of that magnitude....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Shelving this engine is stupid. There is plenty of demand out there. Maybe not as much as there was when trucks/suvs were in their prime, but enough that people will still buy it.

      Not only that, but this engine could probably be used in everything from 1/4 ton trucks to the F450. Why wouldn't you want an engine that versatile in your lineup?
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