Although Ford discontinued the 6.8-liter V-10 gas engine as an option for its 2011 Super Duty pickups, the company debuted the first application of the 6.8 engine for its 2012 F-650 medium-duty chassis truck at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
Today's Ford F-650 commercial truck is offered with a Cummins inline-six diesel engine, a variation of the same six-cylinder oil burner offered in Ram HD pickups and chassis cabs. But like other diesel engines, prices for the oil burner have gone up as emissions regulations for diesels have gotten tougher. In Classes 4 to 7, prices have jumped 36 percent on average, according to Todd Kaufman, Ford's F-Series chassis cab marketing manager.
Diesel fuel also carries a premium at the pump over gasoline.
"With diesel prices outstripping gasoline by more than 10 cents a gallon in many parts of the country, the timing is perfect for a gasoline powertrain in a medium-duty truck," Kaufman said.
The powerful 6.8 is rated at a diesel-like 362 horsepower and 457 pounds-feet of torque. Instead of being paired with Ford's legacy 5R110 five-speed automatic transmission, the 6.8 will be mated with the all-new 6R140 six-speed gearbox with double overdrive gears and available power takeoff.
The gas powertrain is expected to cost about $8,000 less than a comparable diesel. Today's starting price for the F-650 with the Cummins diesel is $57,180.
Though diesel engines are generally up to 30 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, Ford hopes with just the right powertrain calibrations to close that gap to as low as 10 percent with the 6.8-liter/6R140 combo, according to Kaufman.
A compressed-natural-gas option will also be available for the 6.8.
The Class 7 Ford F-650 with the 6.8 V-10 will have a gross vehicle weight rating of 30,000 pounds and a gross combined weight rating of 33,000 pounds.
Ford will start taking orders for the F-650 gasser by the third quarter of 2011. It will be available in two chassis configurations: Pro-Loader with 19.5-inch wheels or dock height with 22-inch wheels.
The F-650 and F-750 will also receive an all-new interior shared with the Ford F-Series Super Duty pickups.
The F-650 6.8 will be available to order this October, with production scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2012.