2009 Ford F-150 – Click above for high-res image gallery It's been said far too often that timing is everything. Sometimes a product comes to market before the market is ready, such as when the Diamond Rio MP3 player debuted a decade ago. Other times, the market moves on before a product arrives. For Ford and Chrysler, the latter rings truer than ever in late 2008. Both companies opened the year with splashy introductions of all-new redesigned full-size pickup trucks at the Detroit Auto Show. Those events were quickly followed by an utter collapse of demand for the entire segment. As U.S. gas prices surged to $4 a gallon and beyond, sales of big trucks dropped by nearly half. When the last couple of generations of the F-150 launched, Ford spent months building extra trucks on overtime to ensure it had enough stockpiled inventory while it re-tooled factories for the new models. This time around, Ford had so many unsold units of the current F-150 sitting on dealer lots that the Dearborn brand was forced to delay Job 1 for three months while the old stock was cleared out with heavy incentives. That time has now arrived, so Ford invited the media out to its Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo, MI to try out the newest edition of the F-150 that, until last spring, had been the top selling vehicle in America ever since the age of the dinosaurs. Read on to find out if the F-150 is still the leader. %Gallery-34757% Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc. ______________________________________________________ This post has been Twittered. Click here to follow Autoblog on Twitter In introducing the new F-150 to the gathering, Ford truck marketing manager Doug Scott began with the refrain "Capability Matters!" in discussing the newly enhanced capabilities of the the truck. Certainly no one could argue with that statement. The real question though is not whether it matters, but rather what capabilities do buyers actually need? As gas prices have risen this year, more and more people who were considering full-size trucks have dramatically revised their requirements for what they need in a vehicle. Non-commercial buyers have been deciding in droves that they don't actually need a truck. In recent years, half of all light-duty trucks were bought for personal tow-haul use with another 20% being for image, according to Scott. In 2008 that has dropped to a combined 60 percent with the rest being used as work trucks. Since it takes 4-5 years to bring a product like this to market, Ford started work on the new F-150 when the segment was at its peak. Now much of the new truck's enhanced capability might go to waste. Scott did bring up an interesting point during his presentation: while many people who had bought F-150s for personal use have moved back to more reasonable vehicles (he didn't actually use that language, but I'm making a point here), the F-150 has also seen new customers. Those are buyers …
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|MPG||14 City / 18 Hwy|
|Transmission||4-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||248 @ 4750 rpm|
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