While only minor changes are being made to the venerable F-150 pickups for the 2013 model year, Ford is planning to make big changes to its line of light-duty commercial vans. The company will gradually phase out the E-Series and replace it with an all-new Transit van platform, which will be introduced with a diesel engine option for the 2013 model year.
Changes to the 2013 Ford F-150 include a new frontend design, new grille, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, 18- and 20-in. wheels with various trim packages, and power-telescoping and power-folding trailer-tow sideview mirrors.
The F-150 can also be equipped with Ford’s Sync voice-activated communications and entertainment package with 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report as standard equipment for the XLT Series and above. Sync includes a 4.2-in. LCD center-stack screen that provides enhanced displays of audio and climate-control functions. In addition, the instrument cluster contains a 4.2-in. driver-configurable LCD productivity screen that includes menus for gauge setup, trip computer, fuel economy, towing, and off-road applications.
On the van side, when Ford begins building the new full-size Transit cargo and passenger van in 2013, it plans to offer a diesel powertrain as an option to the vehicle’s standard 3.5L EcoBoost V6 gasoline engine.
Mike Levine, Ford’s truck communications manager, stresses that the E-Series will continue to be built even after the U.S.-built Transit goes on sale.
The full-size Transit, which will be built at Ford’s Kansas City assembly plant, represents a $1.1 billion investment by the OEM. It will weigh about 200 lbs. less than the E-Series it replaces and should provide up to a 25% improvement in fuel economy.
Eric Guenther, Ford’s general marketing manager for North American fleet, leasing, and remarketing operations, notes that the OEM is expanding the range of alternative fuel and hybrid powertrain options for its trucks, with only the F-150 remaining in its lineup without an alternative fuel prep package, something he says the company plans to change soon.
Right now, Canada’s Westport Innovations is providing a bi-fuel CNG/gasoline option for Ford’s F-250 and F-350 Super Duty models called the “WiNG” system. Westport says it expects its WiNG production facility, located alongside Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant outside Louisville, to be fully ramped up by September.