Falling fuel prices tend to give us all a false sense of security when it comes time to buy a car — lower fuel prices typically lead to falling hybrid and EV sales — and the recent downward trend in fuel prices is no exception to this rule. Soon enough, the Ford F-150 may find itself included in this group of hybrids that are constantly watching their sales decline as fuel prices drop, as Ford is working on a hybrid version of its best-selling pickup truck.

Ford’s global product development chief, Raj Nair, recognized the effect fuel prices have on hybrid and EV vehicles during a recent interview with Detroit Free Press and in the same breath, he also stated that Ford does not expect the reduced price of gasoline to lower the demand of the more fuel-efficient EcoBoost F-150. But despite Ford recognizing the gas price-to-green car sales relationship, the automaker is still "working very hard on" on a hybrid F-150.

You may wonder why the F-150 is ripe for a hybrid powertrain and not a diesel, like the 2014 Ram 1500. Well, according to Nair, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel engine is thousands of dollars more expensive than the EcoBoost engine, and he feels the EcoBoost engine will pay off more quickly in terms of fuel savings when compared to the Ram EcoDiesel. This may be true on paper, considering the base EcoDiesel runs $34,340 while the lowest-spec F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost runs $27,715 and we’re looking at only a fuel economy difference of 3 mpg combined. However, actually meeting the mpg numbers with a turbo-six requires a perfect environment and perfect driving style, whereas most diesel owners will tell you that they easily beat the estimated mpg numbers while pulling a trailer. But I digress...

The real news here is that Ford is actually working on what should be the first production hybrid pickup truck. I have wondered in the past when this would happen and it appears as if it on the horizon. Unfortunately, there are no details on when the truck will debut or what kind of hybrid setup it will be, but I suspect we are at least three years away from seeing a prototype. In terms of powertrain, I suspect it’ll include a small-displacement EcoBoost engine combined with an electric motor that is more powerful than most hybrid vehicles today.

Click past the jump to read more of on this topic and all of my thoughts about it.

Why it matters

One thing we all need to rememeber is that there are now three things that are certainties in life: taxes, death, and fuel prices will always go back up. It’s simply supply and demand; rotting dino bits and plants from millions of years ago, AKA crude oil, is an exhaustible resource, and demand for gasoline is certainly not reducing any, so you don’t need to be an economics major to figure it out. Regardless of how cheap gas gets this time around, we’re all going to be dealing with $3-plus-per-gallon fuel in the future. The more car buyers who realize that, the better of we all will be.

While I applaud Ford for injecting more green into the F-150, I wholeheartedly disagree with its approach. We all saw the horrific results when automakers started tinkering around with full-size hybrid SUVs, like the Escalade and Tahoe. They cost significantly more than their gasoline-only stablemates but only saw meager fuel-economy returns.

Moving to advanced diesel technology is the logical way to go for now, as they consistently beat their EPA estimates and don’t have the payload-killing heft that accompanies a hybrid-drive system. Of course, if folks are buying hybrid pickups just to cruise the highway, then that may not matter. However, I counter that by saying if you buy a truck just to cruise around in, then you’re doing it all wrong.

Additionally, diesel fuel can be made in so many more ways than gasoline can be made. Got a pair of stinky socks, a few rubber bands and a gallon of used vegetable oil? If so, you can likely MacGyver up some biodiesel in your basement (please don’t try this at home...). Additionally, with more diesel vehicles on the road, companies have an incentive to create more diesel fuel and find more cost-effective ways to produce it, possibly bring down its price.

Again, I love that you’re going green with the F-150, I just don’t think a hybrid system is ready for truck use yet.

Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 537938

Source: Detroit Free Press

Justin Cupler
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