This could be a huge problem for both Ford and the future of the pickup truck.
It’s normal for anyone to slack off on an important project such as a school assignment, but it’s a lot harder to justify it if the project is worth half of your grade in the class. In part through procrastination and in part because emissions regulators are coming down hard on trucks, Ford is in the same boat as a bad student. This is because currently, 40% of the F-150 pickup trucks on sale do not meet 2016 emissions requirements. Given that the truck makes up half of Ford’s North American profits, this is a huge deal.
It is likely a disappointment to Ford, which spent $1 billion on the truck’s most recent overhaul that features an aluminum body to save weight (and is now being viciously attacked by GM) and smaller EcoBoost engines that encourage better fuel economy. To make matters worse, emissions regulations are about to become a whole lot more stringent. Culminating all of these factors show that despite Ford’s current time of prosperity, it has plenty of challenges ahead. The current F-150 models that don’t comply with regulations are off by only 1 mpg and 15 grams of CO2 per mile. This is a miniscule number, but it is still above the required limits nonetheless. By 2020, emissions limits are about to get lower, which has Ford scrambling for answers.
Inherently, trucks are inefficient vehicles. They require big engines that can tow heavy trailers and they are aerodynamically inefficient. To solve this, Ford and other truck manufacturers may look towards automobile technologies to save the truck. This means that soon, an F-150 may have a carlike front end for aerodynamic efficiency as well as technology like engine start-stop, severely downsized 4-cylinder engines, and hybrid technology. As for a hybrid truck, expect to see it by 2020 after Ford spends another $1.2 billion on retooling the factory to make yet another highly advanced truck. With difficulties emerging and costs being covered by consumers and automakers, the era of the profit machine pickup truck may be ending.