Among the 13 new electric or hybrid vehicles that Ford promises to have ready in the next five years will be an F-150 pickup truck with a hybrid powertrain. Ford previously announced it would be ready by 2020.
As part of this commitment, Ford also announced at the 2017 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis that it will expand its Advanced Fuel Qualified Vehicle Modifier program to include companies that develop electric and hybrid technology to help make large and small fleets more fuel efficient. Launched as the eQVM program, it already has three qualified companies: XL Hybrids, Lightning Hybrids and Motiv Power Systems. They will work to provide range-extending capabilities for the entire lineup of Ford pickups, from the light-duty F-150 to F-750 medium-duty work trucks. The program allows Ford to keep in close contact with the powertrain suppliers so that upfitted vehicles retain their factory powertrain warranty. A side benefit of Ford working so closely with these companies is that Ford gets to see what systems work best and provide the best reliability.
Ford hasn't said what type of hybrid powertrain will power the next-generation F-150, but given that there are three eQVM-certified companies, the options are wide open. XL Hybrids provides plug-in hybrid systems; Motive Power Systems builds all-electric powertrains; and Lightning Hybrids uses a unique hydraulic energy accumulator to provide alternative thrust for large work trucks. Hybrid technology experts say the biggest challenge in making full-size pickups more efficient with hybrid powertrains is battery efficiency and how the systems respond to pulling or hauling heavy loads.
We expect the F-150 hybrid to debut in two years, likely in the higher trim levels first before rolling out more widely later. Of course, it wouldn't surprise us at all if this technology also was made available to the fleet and commercial markets at the same time.