By on July 5, 2008

1405107078_d1a62a40b6.jpgLast things first. The Detroit Free Press article on the prospects [eventually] greeting Ford's delayed next generation F-150 ends with a sobering analysis. It arrives courtesy of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore. "The appearance buyer is totally out of the market," Art Spinella asserts. "He's gone." According to Spinella's template, that leaves farmers and ranchers; towers or people who pull recreational vehicles or boats and fleet customers. Uh-oh, what happened to building contractors? They may not be on Art's radar– given the housing slump, why would they be?– but Ford's still got them in its sights. "Instead of launching the all-new 2009 F-150 with luxurious four-door models, Ford instead will spotlight the two-door models that always have been more popular among contractors, farmers and fleet customers." With full-size pickup sales off 21.1 percent so far this year, Ford F-150 sales down 40.5 percent in June, gas prices staying high and the fact that F-Series accounts for one-fourth of FoMoCo's total sales, the new F-150 is fighting some big ass headwinds. But hey, at least it will do so with a six-speed gearbox and 1.5mpg better fuel economy than its predecessor.  

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28 Comments on “New F-150 is a Work Truck, Dammit...”


  • avatar
    John Horner

    Will they once again offer a traditional cab? How about bed-sides low enough to toss things over? The current generation F-150 seems completely targeted at the fashion buyer.

  • avatar
    mel23

    How about a bench seat (not split) so your dog can lay there next to you?

  • avatar
    jaje

    I see a lot of contractors now driving old minivans – it seems they noticed they need space to haul stuff rather than a high level of towing. A lot of the buyers who simply wanted that “tough look” are the ones dumping them and losing a lot of money. They tend to buy too much vehicle and drive something to give them an image of toughness or I’m not a Soccer Mom or Dad (look at me I’m important) rather than being sensible and buying a car that fits their needs.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    John Horner: “Will they once again offer a traditional cab? How about bed-sides low enough to toss things over?”It would be nice. The theory behind using the short door with the tiny, erzatz extended cab door behind it on the current standard cab must have been so Ford can use the same door on all of their light trucks and retain a shorter, cheaper wheelbase in the process, while being able to say that everyone of their trucks is an ‘extended cab’. But, sheesh, it just didn’t seem to work (or look) right.

    Likewise, I never quite understood the high bed sides. I suppose they were a 50/50 proposition as to usefullness, but I thought they looked like hell.

    Chrysler and GM’s more traditional approach to the standard cab configuration works a lot better. The more people who really didn’t need them bought trucks, the more they got away from their original intent. In that regard, the bottoming out of the light truck market might be a good thing in returning trucks to their true purpose.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    I seem to recall the justification for the high sides was that if the box was any lower they’d have to lower the weight rating.

    But then I have to wonder: does anyone ever hit the weight rating? It seems like anyone hauling really heavy stuff around (contractors) is going to head on up to the 250s and 350s.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    The 2009 is back to the traditional regular cab. No extra door. The sides are the same height as before, I think, but they’ve added side steps and a rear step for easier access.

    The F-150 will ultimately replace a lot of the F-250s and 350s on the road drien by contractors who don’t need such a big vehicle. I think the truck hurt most by the new F-150 will be the Super Duty.

    However, the F-series (Ford) as a whole has gained significant marketshare this year: 1.5 points. That’s better than the 0.3 points gained by Toyota, the only other company to post a marketshare increase in full-size trucks. And that’s all that Ford needs to do – gain marketshare. It’s not about absolute sales numbers this year (and probably next) because of how abysmal the market is; it’s about marketshare.

  • avatar
    John

    F150 buyers who want to tow with a manual transmission might want to do some homework. Back when I was buying a truck, the tow rating for an F150 manual was only something like 3,000 lbs. The perfect vehicle for towing empty trailers… Hopefully they have beefed up the manual drive train by now but probably not.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    The F150 is not a contractors truck for the most part.Anyone with serious payload and towing needs will buy the F250 or F350. The 150 is much lighter duty in almost every aspect. Same goes for Silverado and Sierra 1500 series.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    In today’s Bakersfield Californian newspaper, a full ppage advertisment foor F-150’s with the following offer:
    “$1,000.00 bonus cash plus $4,500.00 customer cash plus employee pricing plus zero percent for 60 months”.
    If a person joined the American Quarter Horse Association ($35.00 by internet), thhey can get another $500.00 rebate, plus more if they are in the military.
    So by joining the horse association, a person could get $6,000.00 off plus employee financing plus zero percent. Oh, if one owns a business, they could get an additional $300.00 off.
    Throw in the cheerleader, I am there.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    jaje, Contractors have been buying minivans because they are DIRT CHEAP. They are so cheap because they are undesirable because they look like crap long before they fall apart. The nicer trucks that people have been buying have until very recently held their value really well. The car buyers you so maligned for making reasonable decisions, have now had the market change on them unpredictably and many now have lost a good amount of money because of it. 99% of car choices in this country are made on the basis of "want", not "need". Get over it. We don't even buy just what we need when we die, for Pete's sake. We get the nicest coffin we can afford.

  • avatar
    BKW

    I wonder how many farmers, construction workers, etc would wanna drive around in a Playboy Pink 1970 F100?

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    As a farmer, I love having a four door truck, something you can transport the whole crew in and still tow 10,000 lbs (which is the actual tow rating of an f150), I’m certain construction crews feel the same way. I remember back in the day when you needed two pickups to move around four people, wouldn’t want to do that with today’s gas prices. It’ll be nice to see more work oriented f150’s, but I’ll still take mine with four-doors, just none of that ‘king-ranch’ crap.

  • avatar
    BKW

    The only F150 rated to tow 10,000 lbs, is a specially equipped Regular Cab.

    Didn’t Ford bump up the tow rating to 11,000 lbs. when the new Tundra was introduced?

    btw: Ford sez: The warranty is void if the maximum GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is exceeded.

    There goes any chance of towing 10 or 11K lbs. including 4 ppl and all their gear.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Landcrusher : Contractors have been buying minivans because they are DIRT CHEAP. They are so cheap because they are undesirable because they look like crap long before they fall apart. The nicer trucks that people have been buying have until very recently held their value really well. As a contractor I take issue with your statement. GM, Ford and Dodge decided to make beauty trucks with sides so high you cannot load and unload the stupid thing. I used to use camper shells with sides that opened up to remove tools, cable and equipment. With the new trucks it’s virtually impossible. I now use the Ford E150, Ford Rangers and fleet Chrysler mini vans for my whole company. The manufacturers forgot about contractors that needed light service vehicles. Heck, I can hardly find base Rangers. Detroit catered to a fad and have been badly burned. In the process they’ve made trucks that are close to worthless for work. Honestly, what happened to the 6 cylinder, vinyl bench seat and floor, regular cab, manual transmission truck with an am radio without cruise, power windows, OnStar, nav and all the other fluff that does little but raise maintenance costs?

  • avatar
    jaje

    @ Landcrusher: If you take such offense to someone pointing out that Contractors are actually smarter than you think by moving towards used or commercial minivans thereby avoiding the escalating prices of D2.8’s race to create luxurious huge trucks for the image conscious suburbanite (it seems obvious what kind of buyer you are). Minivans (and my opinion) get better mileage, have better road stability, can do all the off roading most need, are cheaper to buy, just as reliable, can safely stow and haul most of their stuff without the need to buy a cap, can easily put ladders on the roof rack, etc. Seems many Contractors have made this move long before the $4 gas scared many away looking towards something more efficient.

  • avatar

    Landcrusher launched a personal attack on another commentator. This is not allowed under TTAC’s clearly defined posting policies. He has been warned. Another flame and he will be permanently banned from posting. There is no second chance and no coming back.

    I’ve edited Landcrusher’s original comment, as well as the subsequent responses. PLEASE do NOT respond to personal attacks in the comments section. Email me ([email protected]) and I will deal with it ASAP.

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    It is pretty obvious that anyone who doesn’t like the rear doors on the regular cab F150 doesn’t actually own one. With the rear doors I can access anything in the back without moving the seat, the extra room behind the seat is not much smaller than the supercab, it is way more convenient.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    There are many different types of contractors, some who need high load carrying capacity and some who do not. A window installer, for example, rarely carries a heavy load. Carpenters also don’t generally have more than one or two thousand pounds of payload as the materials are typically delivered by the lumber yard.

    Even plumbers are not carrying that heavy of a load most of the time these days thanks to plastic and copper pipe being the material of choice instead of iron.

    I used to see a lot of contractors running Aerostar and Astro minivans, but those are of course goners.

    Not very long ago, Ford leveraged the Ranger platform very well. The Ranger, Explorer and Aerostar were all built on pretty much the same frame and drivetrain. Over time, Ford’s minivan and Explorer took their own development path and the Ranger was left to whither. Perhaps in the future we will again see a range of small utility vehicles built off whatever replaces the present Ranger.

  • avatar
    BKW

    John Horner: The Explorer and Ranger are body on frame, the Aerostar is a Uni-Body,

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    BKW: I think you’re confusing the Aerostar with the Windstar. The Aerostar was a body-on-frame RWD truck. Not particularily great either. It and Chevy’s Astro van had a weird place in the line up, small vans just were meant to satisfy a market that didn’t need an Econoline but weren’t as modern or efficient as a FWD “minivan”.

    As it stands now Ford has a real problem. They abandoned the Ranger platform just as that market has heated up and the theoretical replacement, the F100, ain’t anywhere near ready. Either they spend serious money trying to update the Ranger or rush the F100 development. Both will take lots of cash. Think they’ll do it?

    I wonder which company will be the first one to have a valid small p/up a la the Hi lux or S10.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I frequently see another, interesting new ride replacing the light commercial vehicle. The Chevy HHR panel is getting popular for light delivery & service work.

    It’s actually a pretty neat kluge of the standard HHR. I think it gets pretty good EPA numbers, too.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    With a bit more research it seems the BKW is correct, the Aerostar was a unibody-plus-framerails design which used much of the Ranger platform, but didn’t have a full traditional frame. Much of the drivetrain and suspension componentry was shared, but the frame was not.

  • avatar
    mel23

    I expected to see the HHR panel do well, but don’t think I’ve seen one on the road, and just a couple on dealer lots. A salesman told me last week that people don’t want them due to poor visibility. On their Express cargo van they have an option where side access doors are available from the outside. Looks really handy. Might be a good option for the HHR, but the volume might not justify the engineering etc.

  • avatar
    BKW

    Dimwit: I’m not confusing anything. I was a Ford partsman for 35 years, have every Ford Truck Parts Catalog from 1948 thru 2002 and use them daily on two Ford truck enthusiasts websites where I type part numbers for members.

    There is no frame under an Aerostar. Only a stub frame in front.

    Ford has announced they are continuing the Ranger for (at least) two more years.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Just talked to a friend who owns a cabling business and they are moving from the Colorado as their work vehicles to Honda Fits with customized racks to hold ladders and 20 spools of wire easily fit in the back with the seats down. Plus getting 34mpg versus 19mpg (they used to buy crew cab 4×4 versions) and paying less up front has saved them thousands and they seldom need to tow anything. Seems they never needed a truck in the first place.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    I had a Ford Ranger about 10 years ago and out here at the time they sold a lot of them as stripper work trucks with 4cyls. Over the years though it seems everyone moved up to F150s, F250s or other larger vehicles based on the image thing I am guessing.

    If Ford had invested in a brand new redesigned Ranger, with an decent 4cyl, they would not have to depend on the F150 so much.

    I would have been in the market also, not everyone needs an F150.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Oi! My bad. I stand corrected.

    Jaje: It’s all about perception. Looking at other markets like Europe and Asia it’s unusual to see such large vehicles like those available in N.A. There’s really no need for the size except “tradition”. I was behind a JDM Honda Greeter van this year (what that was doing in Toronto I don’t know) and it was amazing just how small it was compared to all the vehicles around it.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Don’t be so certain that all that is needed is a stripper 2 door truck. There are thousands of families that show livestock (horses, cattle, sheep, llamas/alpacas, etc.) and they travel sometimes hundreds of miles to shows. A nicely appointed 4 door truck is almost a necessity. So I believe there will still be a market there, only much smaller, with the urban cowboys driving something else.

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