XL Ford Super Duty F-250 Hybrid: Quick Spin

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By now, everyone's heard that Ford intends to launch a new F-150 hybrid in 2020. We don't have many details on that truck yet, but did you know that you can buy a hybrid F-Series right now? The truck is not totally built by Ford per se; instead, it's modified by a Ford-certified company called XL then sold through XL or a Ford Commercial Vehicles dealer.

XL makes two models: the F-250 Super Duty Hybrid you see here and an F-150 Plug-in Hybrid that we've yet to drive. However, we recently were able to get some seat time overnight in the electrified Super Duty, putting significant miles on it to see if XL's hybrid system is worth the expense.

The F-250 Hybrid starts out as an ordinary gas-powered Ford F-250 — powered by Ford's venerable 6.2-liter "Boss" V-8 making 385 horsepower and 430 pounds-feet of torque. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and can be had in two-wheel-drive or 4x4 configuration. In fact, the F-250 powertrain is completely untouched by the XL hybrid system. It doesn't interfere with the engine operation; it doesn't ever operate in all-electric mode; it doesn't even really talk much to the truck. What it does do is listen.

How It Works

The XLH hybrid electric drive system consists of an electric traction motor that's been grafted onto the rear driveshaft along with a 1.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and inverter, and an engine control unit to oversee it all. It listens to the truck's ECUs to determine driver input and what the engine is about to do, then it adds its torque to the system, which allows the gas engine to do less work. When a gas engine isn't working as hard as it could be, it's revving lower, using less fuel and producing fewer emissions. The battery pack is charged when decelerating, as the motor reverses and turns into a generator to recharge the small battery pack. The electric motor adds up to 220 pounds-feet of torque to the system, according to XL, and operates at speeds up to 75 mph. The system is also fully warrantied for three years or 75,000 miles.

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The strongest benefits of such a system happens in stop-and-go traffic, where takeoff acceleration can be augmented by the stored electrical energy and deceleration allows momentum to be converted back into electricity via the motor for later use. Steady cruising on the highway is not where any hybrid is most efficient; duty cycles with lots of urban traffic are where it's at. XL claims that its F-250 Hybrid sees a 25 percent boost to fuel economy versus a regular gas 6.2-liter V-8 truck, so we took one for a 120-mile spin through suburban Detroit to see if we could replicate or get close to those results.

How It Drives

Driving the XL F-250 Hybrid isn't really any different than wheeling a standard Super Duty. The version XL let me try for 24 hours was a 2018 XLT SuperCab 4x4 short bed. From the outside, the only hint that it's a hybrid truck are the graphics the company uses to advertise (this truck normally does duty as a trade show floor model). Inside, it's the same story: standard Super Duty XLT gray plastic, a fleet-spec multimedia system — cheap, plain, meant for work. Start up the big V-8 and there's still no difference, it idles and rumbles just like the standard model.

The difference comes when you get on the gas. You realize that you're not revving anywhere nearly as high as you would otherwise. Driving around town at moderate acceleration, the engine almost never got above 2,500 rpm, and I was by no means going light on the throttle — I just drove normally, keeping up with traffic. Accelerating while underway is interesting as well — with a light throttle applied, your speed will increase but the engine rpm takes a minute to catch up. This is apparently the electric motor giving you some propulsive force and allowing the engine to chill for a bit before it needs to add power. Supposedly the additional torque is really felt when towing, as the electric motor puts 220 pounds-feet of extra torque into the system when called for. However, I did not tow during this drive, so I can't speak to that. I also didn't detect a more sprightly performance from the F-250 that might be expected with that much extra torque underfoot. Plant your right foot and floor the accelerator, and it behaves pretty much like an unloaded gas-powered F-250: quick enough, but hobbled by gearing that's meant more for work than zippy acceleration.

Lift off the accelerator and there's a bit more regenerative pull than you'd get without the hybrid system, as the electric motor acts like an engine brake to recapture some energy to shunt into the batteries. It slows you down a bit before you hit the brakes, and can also act as extra stopping force when you really apply some brake pedal pressure.

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But the point of the system isn't about speed or additional pulling force; it's about improvements to fuel economy and reductions in emissions, two things that fleet managers are increasingly concerned with. The price of the XLH system starts at $10,990, but if you're ordering a fleet of them, it's likely that this price could be negotiated. That's a little bit more than the $9,120 that Ford charges to go from the gas 6.2-liter Boss V-8 to the diesel 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 in the Super Duty, but XL says that for fleet purposes, you gain an advantage in two areas. First, you're not spending money on diesel exhaust fluid for the diesel engine, and second, your fleet emissions are considerably less, something that many fleet operators are being tasked with reducing.

How Efficient Was It?

So how did it do? Over 150 miles of stop-and-go traffic that included a 30-mile freeway jaunt, the XL Hybrid F-250 returned a combined 15.0 mpg. For comparison, a review of 2017 F-250 Super Duties with the gas 6.2-liter V-8 on Fuelly.com shows 69 vehicles reporting an average of 11.8 mpg, while 151 trucks equipped with the diesel 6.7-liter V-8 reported 14.4 mpg. My results showed a considerable improvement over the standard V-8, well more than the 25 percent XL purports to bring to the party, and instead provided results on par with the Power Stroke diesel, but without the added expense of DEF. And all of it was delivered without any weird powertrain behavior, in a seamless, nearly invisible system that's impressively integrated into the standard, unmodified powertrain. It's very well done and provides a fascinating alternative for fleet operators who don't want to deal with the expense and added maintenance of diesel systems, or who want to improve fleet efficiency and not take a hit on diesel particulate emissions.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman

 

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Comments

How much weight does $11K add?

JUNK PURE JUNK FROM GARBAGE MOTORS

Great idea!

some things I didn't like:
1. location of the battery pack---vulnerable to rear end collision
2. ten thousand dollar option cost
3. some additional complexity

some things I liked:
1. operates across the whole speed/rpm range
2. requires no mods to the engine compartment
3. improvement in FE is impressive!
4. user-friendly alternative to diesel

Ford partnered with a third party to pull this off, so the performance of the partner becomes very important to Ford's success---if XL does their part, Ford customers should be very happy.

Great idea!

some things I didn't like:
1. location of the battery pack---vulnerable to rear end collision
2. ten thousand dollar option cost
3. some additional complexity
4. RAM's hybrid is a no cost option with the 3.6 half ton

some things I liked:
1. operates across the whole speed/rpm range
2. requires no mods to the engine compartment
3. improvement in FE is impressive!
4. user-friendly alternative to diesel

Ford partnered with a third party to pull this off, so the performance of the partner becomes very important to Ford's success---if XL does their part, Ford customers should be very happy.

When I hear the word Hybrid! 15 mpg doesn't cut it especially not for $11k. .

Needs to get 18mpg minimum to be viable.

If it truly gets 15 mpg and adds 200FTLB of TQ, priced at half the diesel cost, it would be a winner. My 17 SD 6.2 CCSB gets 12.5 in mixed driving. 15 is about what my 13 5.0 F150 had. $3000ish option would be compelling. $10k - no way!
Mostly like the design except for the battery placement.

Agree with others-cool concept but price tag not worth the 4 or so MPG increase.

-CT

Nice to see ford doing something differently. And guess what?NEXT YEAR GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY COPY IT.

Nice to see ford doing something differently. And guess what?NEXT YEAR GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY COPY IT.

Not worth the extra $11k and curb weight for 4 mpg. Ford needs to focus on a next gen V8 with modern advances for more efficient combustion and a beefy 10 spd trans for heavy duty applications.

not ready for that
besides: my 2016 F-150 will last forever, won't need to buy another truck

@ Ecoboost Rules

I thought you said you trade every 2 years???

I like that compared with the Ram it has 4 times as much battery capacity and that it bypasses the transmission, going straight to the driveshaft. That should save some stress on the transmission. As such, I am not sure how to combine gas motor torque with electric motor torque or if that rating is even relevant. KW output would probably be the better way to express it.

The $10K price tag does seem way to high. I looked at some cars that come with or without hybrid from the factory and the price difference was only $3.5K. Rumors are that the Ford package is going to offer some neat features so their's might be closer to $5K but I would be surprised if it is much more. Hopefully, the factory will find a place for both the battery and the spare tire.

Of course, no hybrid is going to save fuel on the highway unless you are in steep hills and it helps smooth those out. Unless you do a lot of around town driving this thing is going to have a very long return on investment.

@Walt

The XL company's website links to a story dated April 23 about their new plug-in hybrid F250 6.2 V8s that cut gasoline costs IN HALF. Return on investment comes a lot fast at that rate. Commercial customers are eager to use tax-benefits to finance these improvements.

not ready for that
besides: my 2016 F-150 will last forever, won't need to buy another truck

Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Apr 25, 2018 2:35:47 PM
First you tell us you replace your truck every two years now it lasts forever.
You LIE just like Ford does with their power and towing figures, must be a Ford habit .LIES,LIES,LIES

Meanwhile viamotors hybrid electric trucks gets 200 mpg.
Nice try frod but no cigar
https://www.viamotors.com/electric-vehicles.html

Ford needs to focus on a next gen V8 with modern advances for more efficient combustion and a beefy 10 spd trans for heavy duty applications.

TNTGMC

I changed my mind and I just changed jobs and it isn't looking good, I worry about getting fired.
Yea, I can get another job but never at the same pay where I can afford a new truck.
The last company I worked for was bought out by a new company and they took all of us in but later finding out the new company doesn't like us and I worry about that.
All those smiles and handshakes at the job interview turned into mean faces and middle fingers as we got settled into the work.

11K can buy a lot of gasoline. By adding 3 or 5 MPG it takes a LOOOOOONG time to make up that expenditure. Its nice that the engine doesn't work as hard but again that's a lot of money up front for a long slow savings.

@ Ecoboost Rules

Sorry to hear about your misfortune. Hopefully it all works out and your F150 lasts many years for you, bc we all know the prices of these trucks aren't going down, but skyrocketing upwards!

Just read an article last night that stated Fiat/Chrysler with the new Ram is aiming for a $70K half ton truck!!! Unreal!!!

Ram is aiming for a $70K half ton truck!!! Unreal!!!
Posted by: TNTGMC | Apr 26, 2018

I'd love to see RAM do it. There is a market for bling. If you can afford it, flaunt it! Today's manufacturing systems offer the ability to manage product-configuration to a degree not dreamed of 20 years ago.

I'd like to see Ford and GM do it too, btw. Why shouldn't GMC build a truck that appeals to the same demographic that buys AMGs and M-Class autos?

papa- good points. The big three are sup par when compared to the amg's M sports of the world. To do something like that is huge. Not surprised Ram is doing it. They took some engineers from Mercedes back when they went to Fiat.

-CT

This system costs $1,870 more than Ford charges to move from gas to diesel.

That could make it more desirable if you believe the study that says Rheumatoid Arthritis can be caused by diesel exhaust.
(It fiddles with the immune system)

That also begs the question;
How many diesel owners have Gout? Excess urea in the system is the causal reason for that condition.

@CT

there is a market.

Imagine if GMC offered a boutique version of the Denali that featured a mind blowing interior, with insane personal electronics and a twin-turbo V-12 sourced from someplace in Germany or Austria?

Average retail? $135K. Average wait? 6-12 months. Why not?

Back to the topic of this particular column: Ford and GM both offered investors good news during the last 24 hours. Although the traditional market for sedans and coupes is really down, the pickups and SUVs are heating up.

The outlook for commercial sales is even better, because the Congress and the White House are pushing for over two TRILLION dollars of infrastructure spending during the next 10 years.

Roads, bridges, airports, train-station upgrades. Who buys work trucks? Workers! Who buys 3/4 ton trucks? Construction companies.

These are good times to be GM and Ford dealers.

Papa-agree with the new infrastructure work coming. On that note, I read yesterday Ford is gunning for profitability, and dropping car lines that have low margins-fusion and focus, which means with the bronco coming, and the Ranger, most of their automotive sku's are now trucks and SUV's. I hope that doesnt burn them.

-CT

@CT

My view for quite a while has been that Ford management is slow to react, their senior executives are afraid of the board of directors and it shows. Ford has burned a TON of investor capital during the last 15 years.

Ford respective to product and asset allocation is positioned pretty well right now, as is GM. GM dumped some overseas assets during the last couple of years and the market has rewarded them for it.

Since early 2016 all of the Big 3 have done reasonably well. The infrastructure plans are gravy.

10K to achieve just over 3 mpg better than the standard 6.2 V8??!! That's a laugh just like the rest of the Ford truck line.
I'll just stick to RAM, thank you very much! The BEST full size truck line on the market in the USA....BAR NONE!

@HemiRampage
You do know this was not Fords technology?

It's important to understand the target market. Fleets that have lots of vehicles that do high miles and a lot of stop-start driving.
1. These fleets are all eligible for accelerated IRS depreciation deduction. So that $11k up front is more like $6k net cash out to those companies.
2. Most fleets that will buy them are doing 30,000 - 40,000 miles per year per vehicle
3. 4mpg for 35,000 miles with $6k up front = <3 year payback.

Cleaner than diesel and better business equation than the non-hybrid model for those fleets.

@RC

According to XL's website they have a plug-in hybrid F250 V8 capable of achieving a 50% reduction fuel cost and a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

Those figures accelerate the ROI into year 2 or even year 1

On another note. Motor trend just did a review on the F150 diesel. Here is the article. I am not impressed. Diesels are supposed to get good mpgs while towing or driving. i don't think its worth the money! i would opt for the Coyote!!!

http://www.motortrend.com/cars/ford/f-150/2018/2018-ford-f-150-diesel-first-drive-review/

TNT, most halton truck people shouldnt be towing 6Klbs plus anyway-thats what the big boys are for. I think this truck is more inline with light towing-boats and such regardless of what the company says it can actually tow. My ol Chevy has a 8500lb tow max rating, i towed 6k before with the 5.3 and it was horrible trying to do that. I think the ram-gm-ford diesels are for folks that tow the 3500 lb boat/small rv and then these trucks diesels will shine, other that its a marketing ploy. There is noway any halfton will tow 10k pounds easily with any engine. when you go to the big diesels thats when it becomes nothing to tow. I have towed construction trailers with all of the gas engines in any make, and they all are a drag until you have the diesels.

-CT

@CT

totally agree with you 100%! That's why I don't understand Ford offering a diesel when it has a 3.3L, 2.7L, 3.5L, and 5.0L how many engine options do you really need??? They almost over lap one another!!

Thats why i like GM and Ram...keep it simple!!

3.6L, 5.7L and eco diesel

4.3, 5.3 6.2, and now diesel....IDK why GM really needs a diesel when the Duramax does so well in HD and the 6.2L hauls anything you would really every need for a half ton!!

okay everyone lets calm down jumping to conclusions based off one persons mpg. much better than rams alternator style motor;although i'm not sure how it being after the transmission affects the torque rating when the transmission gear ratio is less or greater than 1:1

okay everyone lets calm down jumping to conclusions based off one persons mpg. much better than rams alternator style motor;although i'm not sure how it being after the transmission affects the torque rating when the transmission gear ratio is less or greater than 1:1

...much better than rams alternator style motor...Posted by: fourloko | Apr 27, 2018

@fourloko

The RAM E-Torque is offered with EVERY 3.6 in the 2019 RAM 1500. No extra cost. The Ford is a $10k option

I like the Ford design better but the added cost, even after potential tax benefits, would buy the guy driving the RAM 1500 base 3.6 a TON of gasoline, with only incremental performance improvement (unless your needs really require a 3/4 ton truck)



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