What does the 2021 F150 mean for Ford's future?
Ford have stopped saying and started doing again. And I like that.
Vehicle manufacturers love to talk. They are the chattiest of bunches on earth. They talk about technology, they talk about sustainability, they talk about just about anything that's going to make them money. It's a bit of a sideshow sometimes and it gets laughable. Like for example Tesla spending the past three years talking about the new Roadster and the Cybertruck. I'm surprised those cars haven't become memes.
One automotive manufacturer that hasn't been doing a whole heap of talking in recent times is Ford. In fact, after having spent years and years working with Ford the silence of Ford in the past 12 months has almost been deafening. Why has Ford been silent you ask? Well, they haven't needed to do much talking and that's because they've started doing a whole lot of doing.
Ford has been busy diversifying over the past little while. They've been equally looking back to their past with vehicles like the new Bronco, but more importantly, looking to their future and a big key of Ford's future is their global bestseller the F150. That's what I want to talk about today. The F150 and why it's heralding a fresh start for what has been a rutty Ford Motor Company for years.
I don't want to go through the car in detail because that's not my job here. That's the job of car reviewers on DriveTribe. What I do want to talk about are the two buzzwords that automotive has been talking about for years: autonomous driving and electrification.
I'm going to start with the autonomous driving part because we've heard nothing on self-driving cars for a while now and there's been a bit to talk about. Ford has included first to market technology in the new F150 which significantly bolsters the argument for self-driving cars. It's the addition of a driver's seat camera that detects drowsiness and distraction. Up until now, the only way autonomous cars have been able to operate correctly is with pressure input on the steering wheel. That's meant that drivers have had to keep their hands on the wheel the whole time.
In comes Ford with a solution which will legally allow their drivers to drive hands free completely. This driver's seat camera is a special piece of technology and that's because it's cost-effective and simple. In fact, for a complex issue, it's a simple solution. And it may not sound like a big step on the outset but it puts Ford vehicles into the stage 2 category of autonomous driving vehicles. That stage is aptly named "hands-off" driving. The stage before that is semi-autonomous and the next stage is "eyes-off". So far though not many manufacturers have progressed beyond semi-automation.
That tech is also important because it must be close to perfect. You don't include a piece of technology in your best selling car of all time thinking it's either unsafe or a gimmick. There's far too much attention on the car if something goes wrong.
I also wanted to look at Ford's inclusion of the V6 hybrid engine variant of the new F150. I found that inclusion particularly interesting and it will also make Ford the only manufacturer to have a functioning and practical hybrid truck/ute on the market. Ford also hasn't skimmed on the range either, combined engine use gets the F150 up to 700 miles.
That inclusion sets Ford up for the long rumoured all-electric F150. A car which has purview to 2021 reveal alongside the new Raptor and would confirm a rumoured partnership with Rivian. Rivian is a much-anticipated EV startup aimed at rivalling Tesla's hold on the electric market. And the vehicles on paper look extremely impressive. I talked about Rivian's new vehicles in a previous article about their partnership with Apple TV+ series "The Long Way Up" where the vehicles are driven from the bottom of South America to Los Angeles.
But with Rivian having proven their prowess in the electric vehicle sector the partnership between Ford and Rivian look far more promising than that of General Motors and Nikola's.
Weirdly, analysing Ford's upcoming lineup sort of reminded me of the 1960s Ford who was desperate to claw back vehicle sales and equally beat Ferrari at Le Mans. But there's one major difference between that Ford and the one we see today. Today's Ford is doing it intelligently. They're doing it as if they want to take advantage of the next two decades of automotive and actually make money in the process instead of throwing money away at firey yet frivolous pursuits.
Even more weirdly we don't expect one of the biggest carmakers on earth to act this way. We normally expect Ford to build fossilised, gas-guzzling, bare bones of vehicles which every man and his dog buy. Not cars with premium leather, an interior cabin designed as a mobile workspace and self-purported business class style seats. Not to mention that the car can now be ordered with fold-flat front seats intended on being used for sleeping. What the hell is this Ford? Now they're forward-thinking about convenience? That's just preposterous.
One thing is for sure. Ford no longer want to be one of those manufacturers who just talk about being the future of automotive. Ford is becoming the automotive manufacturer of the future. And so now we wait. We wait and see whether the F150's hype lives up to Ford's praise and we see what comes next for the auto manufacturer. We wait and see whether this new iteration of Ford is the biggest step forward the company has taken since the model T in their quest to stay relevant in today's big global world of automotive. And you know what? I think they'll end up leaders in the sector.
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