The Ford F-150 is America's annual best seller, moving more units than anything else since Jimmy Carter was president. It's also one of the most challenged when it comes to cutting through the air, although we know there's worse. If the F-150 is going to clear the hurdle of new CAFE regs, that's going to change: its combined 16.5 mpg won't make it any friends come 2020.
Ford designers, led by North American Design Director Peter Horbury, are already looking at ways to make the next generation F-150 more aerodynamic, despite the all-new 2009 Ford F-150 having just debuted. The problem is, there simply aren't many options for making a difference: the only two components are the giant block of a passenger compartment and the massive drag-creating void of a bed behind it. Ford design did attempt to go a little aero with the front end of the 10th generation 1997-2003 F-150, but that, frankly, wasn't what people expected from an American pickup.
[Source: Auto Week]
And Horbury mentions those expectations as problem. Discussing the idea of moving the windshield forward, he said "Nissan has a hard time trying to sell people that idea, but maybe the time has come." While there could arguably be greater reasons for Nissan's difficulty in capturing truck share with the Titan, it is well known that pickup truck buyers are a knowledgeable group who know what they want. Dynamic aero aids, then, could be on the cards. An F-150 with a Carrera GT-style retractable wing? Or perhaps a Kenworth-like sleeper cab over the rear passengers?