By David Boldt
As executive director of Ford's North America engineering division, Frank Davis has his stamp on virtually everything sold by Ford in the U.S. And having just run the media marathon in support of the new 2015 Mustang launch Davis is back on the road with the launch of Ford's all-new 2015 Ford F-150, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We caught up with Davis at Gilley's in Dallas, where north Texas dealers — along with select media — were in attendance for the first showing of the F-150 outside of Motown. With an all-aluminum body and new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, the new F-Series is doing a Texas Two-Step.
Government Mandates Versus Consumer Priorities
"Truck customers value payload, they value towing, and we've given them across-the-board improvements in payload and trailer towing. This truck is the end solution, where we get both fuel efficiency and capability. Fuel economy is important to our customers; it was outside of the top 10 [considerations] just a few years ago — now it's moving into the top 10. The No. 1 reason people buy our trucks is capability — this is what we do. We started the serious work on this truck in 2009. What we wanted to do is take it to the next level; [our attention to] real economy was a result of customer wants and not the government mandate."
Absent Aluminum, What Would You Do?
"We said, 'Let's use more high-strength steel.' The problem … when you use high-strength steel you thin the gauge, you bring the gauge down. And then it's not as dent or ding resistant as aluminum. With aluminum you can … increase the section in the doors; we've made the doors thicker, and so it's actually more capable as well. We call it 'tougher, smarter, more capable' — and that's the tougher part."
"We don't have anything to talk about [today], but that's obviously something we have in mind as we go forward, because it has been a consistent [strategy] for us. Raptor redefined a segment, and no one has come close to us yet. And we're gonna further distinguish ourselves from our competitors using this great platform."
"All cabs — regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew — will see an increase in capability. Seven hundred pounds is what we've actually saved per vehicle. Later on we'll talk powertrains, weight savings per platform; and there's a huge manufacturing story, too."
EcoBoost — to the Power of Two
"I think the 2.7-liter, which is an all-new engine for us, is a great platform to expand in the future, but I can't talk about the future. But I'll tell you … it's gonna open people's eyes on the fuel economy of the vehicle, and as we were discussing before, one of the things we focus on is big fuel efficiency while figuring out how we [obtain] around 8,000 pounds of towing. The 2.7 engine is amazing. The 3.5 EcoBoost has been a huge hit for us; we've sold over 425,000 since its launch in 2011."
For Davis's official bio, click here.