Five years ago Ford debuted the F-350 Tonka Concept, a big yellow concept truck that portended the design of future Super Duty trucks. Along with the chunky looks, the Tonka concept also featured a trick bit of eco-tech called Hydraulic Launch Assist (HLA). The system uses a hydraulic pump/motor and high pressure accumulator to recapture kinetic energy when braking, which can then be released when the truck is accelerating to assist the engine. It's a type of mild hybrid system really, though its effect promised to be substantial.
Rumors are swirling around the intertubes that a production version of Ford's Hydraulic Launch Assist technology will debut with the 2009 Ford F-150 at the Detroit Auto Show, or possibly a year later. A figure of 60 mpg was initially thrown around, though we're a bit skeptical a production version of HLA could hit the mark. A similar system, however, has already reached the roads on some special Hydraulic Hybrid UPS trucks that were developed by the EPA in conjunction with Eaton and International Truck, both of which are Ford suppliers, as well.

There's been no confirmation from Ford that the 2009 Ford F-150 will feature HLA, so we'll have to wait until January when the new truck is unveiled in Detroit to find out for sure. If HLA does make an appearance, it'll be the second major shake up in the full-size truck segment debuting in Detroit, the other being Dodge's switch to a coil-sprung rear suspension on the 2009 Ram.

[Source: All Cars, All The Time via AutoblogGreen]

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