F-150 Marketer Talks Future Ford Trucks, Carbon Fiber?
For some, a pickup may be a nice luxury and a means to tailgate and camp, but for many more, the truck is an everyday necessity. Look at any worksite, and you will see plenty of pickups of all sizes and configurations, supporting the men and women who work at those job sites. These pickups power our economy, our infrastructure and for many, are in integral part of our way of life. But with more concern over how we consume fuel and dispel carbon emissions, where does that leave the pickup? That is the question that we took to Ford, surrounding their incredible Atlas Concept. We had the chance to talk to Eric Peterson, F-150 Marketing Manager, and were curious as to how Ford landed on the look, formula and features of the Atlas. We also wanted to know about the future of the Ford trucks and the segment as a whole. Petersen said, “We listened to what our customers were saying how trucks could help customers live in their world. They wanted the biggest, most advanced technology, and to push F150, and trucks in general, to the ultimate limit.” Peterson says that the Atlas is the result of listening to Ford’s truck customers, and factoring in equipment to meet the realities of fuel consumption: “A lot of our work had to do with active grill shutters active wheel splitters, drop down spoiler. Integration of new features. We employed out EcoBoost strategy, focusing on smaller displacement.”
When asked about the role of trucks as family vehicles (the way that Ram has gone with the 1500) Peterson was reluctant to concede that Ford wants to follow in that path, “I don’t see the role of the pickup changing,” said Peterson, “We’ll continue to bring out innovations, but customers need their pickups to do work.”
Sure, a truck customer would love their vehicle to be as robust as n M1 Abrams tank, but there are realities that automakers will face in the future, and Ford is already thinking of that. “We’re thinking about how to build trucks smarter. You have to be more fuel efficient, you have to have more tech, but capability has to be there. Continuing to balance that need for capability with smartly integrating fuel economy.”
Turbocharging and smaller displacement are already a part of the current F-150 lineup, but what about exotic materials, like carbon fiber? It was something that Peterson did not rule out. “We’re looking for smarter solutions, and anything is on the table.”
There is no quantum leap in the evolution of any vehicle. Sure there are skips and jumps here and there, and as much as people strive for the golden bullet, modest updates like the ones employed on the Atlas are how progress is made.
“We are constantly fighting the balance of cost and value,” says Peterson, “We’ll be looking at that sweet spot, the right content, the right pieces. It has to be affordable.” For now, that excludes carbon fiber, but once again, it has not been ruled out down the line.
The Atlas is an innovative progression of what trucks CAN be in the very near future. Says Peterson of this notion, “This is a purposeful, dutiful example of what is possible. It can be stylish and capable and fuel-efficient.” It may be a balance, but one that allows pickup trucks to continue to evolve as we move into a time when fuel prices will continue to rise, and the demand for more fuel efficient trucks will drive buying behaviors in the years to come.
PHOTOS: See more of the Ford Atlas Concept