Ford to beef up engine for F-150
Automaker is developing V-8 powerplant for popular pickup that will dwarf rivals
By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News
Responding to the auto industry’s escalating horsepower wars — including Chrysler’s popular Hemi engine — Ford Motor Co. is developing a larger, more powerful V-8 engine for its top-selling F-150 pickup line.
The engine’s 6.2-liter displacement will dwarf Ford’s biggest V-8 offering — the 300-hp 5.4-liter Triton V-8 — as well as rivals from Chevrolet, Nissan and Dodge, including the 5.7-liter 340-hp Hemi.
Ford declined to comment on the project, but suppliers are already bidding to provide components for the engine, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News.
Ford has not decided where to build the engine known internally as Hurricane.
Despite rising gasoline prices, the Hurricane project is “somewhat overdue,” Global Insight market analyst John Wolkonowicz said.
“In trucks, it’s all about bragging rights,” Wolkonowicz said.
The full-size truck market has become a major battleground for Detroit automakers, with Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and GMC facing new competition from formidable Toyota Motor Co.p. and Nissan Motor Co. entries.
Demand for the 345-horsepower Hemi has soared since DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group revived the legendary engine two years ago.
More than 60 percent of all Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles are now sold with a Hemi engine, and Chrysler is now using it on large, rear-wheel drive passenger cars.
The Hurricane project is another sign Ford is back on solid financial ground. Analysts say the project was probably delayed when the automaker posted losses of $6.4 billion over 2001 and 2002.
Helped by steep cost reductions and lower operating costs, Ford is on track to earn pre-tax profits of $7 billion by mid-decade.
“Now that things are looking up a little bit, they’re starting to prioritize some of those things that got put on the back burner before,” Wolkonowicz said.
The Hurricane project comes as Ford is rolling out 11 new engines and transmissions to bolster its powertrain lineup.
Ford dealers are eager to sell a more powerful engine. Like the Triton V-8, the new engine will feature advanced technology to limit harmful emisions.
“Anytime they can claim (class-leading) horsepower, torque and green’ at the same time, hello! Where do I sign up?” said Bob Krause, inventory manager and sales con******t at Roy O’Brien Ford in St. Clair Shores.