Five Minutes With Ford's Frank Davis

FrankDavis II

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."

Performance Platforms

"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."

Capacity

"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

 

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Comments

@John....you sir need to get a pair of eyeglasses. This truck looks nothing like the current Titan. It looks very much like a modernized '08+ Super Duty/F-150 combination.

The one thing I'm wondering about is if all the 1/2 tons are being designed to follow the footsteps set by the original F-250 Super Duty back in '99, what is Ford going to do with the next generation F-250? Make it even bigger and more cartoonish looking?

sad

there forcing us to go diesel to get a steel block&heads. Those new aluminium blocks cannot handle the heat. In 2003 I bought a new 3/4ton gmc and plowed with it, the aluminium head warped from the heat which caused a coolant leak. I cranked the bolts down and the leaked stopped thank god. It was a steel block aluminium heads.

@Jake D and RoadWhale,
That top photo of Frank Davis has a 2012 Ford Taurus front end behind him. The '13/'14 Taurus has a different front end more in line with Fords global face.

@RoadWhale,
With regards to the Ranger and it lack of appearance in the NA market...I agree with you a 100% that it's not just the fuel economy that the mid-size truck fans like myself preach. I too would much prefer a very capable mids-size that gets low to mid 30's MPG over a F-150 that gets high 20's MPG. You are not alone in the search for a truly updated MID-SIZE truck. Bigger is not always better and the new GM twins will be a good start. Hopefully with two brand new entries back in the mid-size game, it will light a fire underneath at least a couple of the competing brands? Ford would make the most sense, since their "global" Ranger is already a hit in the foreign markets.

@HEMI MONSTER

"but until Ford decide they need to have a Ranger, people will just have to live with it. Until then go buy a baby Chevy/GMC, Taco or Frontier. I'm sure one of those trucks will work out for y'all."

Well stated, but the problem is, many (including myself) have an emotional attachment to the Ranger nameplate. Truck loyalty is sometimes not rational ;)

@ CDN Mark - loyalty to trucks is indeed an irrational process. I've owned 2 Rangers but I also remember when Ranger was a F Series option. My dad owned an F250 Ranger. IIRC 1970.

I’ve always considered myself a Ford truck guy since that’s all I’ve owned when it comes to trucks, but I will definitely check that loyalty at the dealership door, when it comes to spending my hard earned dollars. While Ford’s “global” Ranger would meet my needs perfectly (well almost… I’d like a crew cab with a 6 foot bed), so will either one of the new GM mid-size twins coming out in the fall. Sorry Nissan and Toyota, but your mid-size trucks are long in the tooth and in desperate need of more efficient drivetrains and modern creature comforts. For me, it’s not about the brand as much as the quality, fuel efficiency, and the smaller physical size that meets my needs. My payload and towing requirements (1200/6000 lbs.) are minimal, so there is no need for best in class numbers in those categories.

I for one am excited to see the new mid-size trucks from GM and I'm hopeful they will spur new products from Ford, Ram, Toyota and Nissan. I currently drive a 2002 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew that I bought new (now with 68K on the odometer), but I refuse to go full size with my next purchase even if the 2015 F-150 gets the same MPG as GM’s new mid-size trucks. What would really get my attention (and open my checkbook) would be the same new innovative technologies that are found in the 2015 F-150 and put them into a mid-size truck….. Yes, a mid-size that could move 4 people, haul 1500 lbs., tow 7000 lbs all while getting low to mid 30’s MPG. You say that’s not possible? It’s actually not far from the mark right now if you look at the 3.2 L diesel sold outside of North America. Thankfully I’m not in market to replace my F-150 just yet (kids in daycare), but when I am, there should be a few more options available than what the current mid-size offerings are now. Best truck (no matter the brand) gets my money!!!

@Brian in NC
You're correct I think about your assumption with the midsizers. They needed refinement in the US. The lack of refinement, without the other barriers impeding their availability in the US has made them a poorer choice in comparison to a full size.

I'm hoping GM has improved the US Colorado from it's global counterparts and they are at the level of the Ford, Mazda and VW midsizers.

As for diesel, well, Lou's comment about the demise of diesel as a choice in the US appears threatening.

The first and simplest issue to resolve concerning US diesel is the quality of US diesel fuel. The US should increase the cetane value to 51. This would make it much easier for the manufacturers to meet EPA emission targets.

For the life of me, I can't understand harsh emission regulations, then the standard set so it's near on impossible to meet the regulations.

It could be another technical barrier appeasing different interested lobbying groups.

Imagine having European engine technology in the US.

A full-size is too big for me. Went to my local dealer to seriously consider one last summer, and standing next to it, I realize that it is just too big. I don't need a full-size truck, but I do need a truck. My 2003 Ranger FX4 is the best vehicle I have ever owned, and I want a new Ranger.

I have been a loyal Ford driver for almost three decades, and after all that, my first brand-new vehicle could be something other-than a Ford. Also, my kids will be growing up in something other than a Ford, breaking that brand-loyalty that has served Ford so well.



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