Ford Australia has thrown their hat into the full-size pickup truck ring, confirming on 29 March that the F-150 will be coming here next year as a factory-approved and warrantied vehicle.
The last time Ford Australia officially sold F Series trucks here was two decades ago, with numerous specialist importers and conversion companies, like Harrison F-Trucks in Victoria, filling demand since then.
The success of RAM Trucks Australia with their locally-converted, factory-approved RAM pickups undoubtedly caught both Ford and General Motors by surprise. GM has already responded with the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and now it’s Ford’s turn with the F-150.
“We’ve listened hard to fans and dealers and found a way to bring F-150 to Australia. As the pinnacle of ‘Built Ford Tough’, it will give our customers even more choice when they’re in the market for a pickup,” said Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand.
“With such a local fan base, and with full-size truck sales in Australia tripling in recent years, we just knew we had to find a way to bring it back to Australia.”
Part of America’s best-selling vehicle line for the past 40 years, the F-150 will be offered locally in a choice of XLT and Lariat trims, which are low-to-mid tier offerings in the US market. The XLT is spec’d and priced just above the entry-level XL, with the Lariat above that. Above the Lariat, there are King Ranch, Platinum and Limited variants of the F-150 available for US buyers, as well as special edition Tremor and Raptor F-150s.
The F-150s to be offered here will be locally converted to right-hand drive by specialist engineering company RMA Automotive in what Ford Australia say is the only programme of its kind globally.
With more than 30 years’ experience and over 100,000 Ford vehicles modified globally, RMA Automotive are classed as a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM). RMA’s local operation will be in Mickleham, north of Melbourne and close to Ford Australia HQ at Campbellfield.
The Australian-delivered LHD F-150s that RMA Automotive will remanufacture to RHD will meet all applicable Australian Design Rules and safety regulations, with completed conversions available alongside the full Ford range through Ford’s dealer network nationwide.
Ford Australia’s product development team, the same crew behind the upcoming new Ranger and Everest, say they will work with their US counterparts and RMA Automotive to ensure a seamless conversion.
Both the XLT and Lariat F-150s coming to Australia will be offered in one drivetrain combination – a 3.5-litre turbocharged petrol V6 matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission – with selectable four-wheel drive and maximum towing capacity of 4.5 tonne.
Delivering a claimed 298kW and 678Nm (400hp and 500lb/ft), the 3.5 EcoBoost V6 is the most popular F-150 engine option in the US, despite the availability of numerous other engines, including naturally-aspirated and smaller versions of the V6, a V6 hybrid and 5.0-litre V8.
“When we began looking at F-150 for an Australian return, there was one engine that stood out for us – the 3.5L EcoBoost, which gives F-150 immense power and torque, more than many of its V8 competitors,” said Natalie Manariti, Ford Australia’s Global Trucks Enterprise Product Line Manager.
“F-150 is an audacious vehicle for customers that don’t want to be restricted or limited, so we are bringing the best of the best with the 3.5L EcoBoost.”
The ten-speed auto is common range-wide on the US F-150 and the only transmission available on the XLT and Lariat for that market.
Modes in the selectable four-wheel drive system include 2 High, 4 High 4 Low and 4 Auto. The latter is a default mode that varies drive to the rear or all four wheels as required, with 4 High engageable on the fly at speeds up to 88km/h, while 4 Low requires the truck to be stationary and the transmission in neutral before it can be engaged. (NOTE: This information refers to US-market examples of the F-150 and may not apply to Australian versions)
To be fitted to Australian F-150s as standard, four-wheel drive is optional on the US-spec XLT and Lariat, as are features like an electronic locking rear diff, Hill Descent Control and upgraded axles. How many of these options will be fitted as standard or available locally is unknown.
Suspension consists of an independent double wishbone front end and leaf spring rear, is common to all F-150 variants bar the Raptor, which gets a 5-link rear end and different shocks.
Both the XLT and Lariat will be offered in the 'SuperCrew' crew cab body only, while common safety and driver assistance features across both grades include Ford'sSYNC4 infotainment system, Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Post-Collision Braking, Reverse Brake Assist, Reverse Sensing System, a rear-view camera and auto high beam headlights.
“The suite of productivity and safety technology included in F-150 will bring a whole new level of sophistication and ability to the full-size pick-up segment,” Manariti adds.
Ford Australia has confirmed the factory-approved RHD F-150 will launch locally by the middle of 2023, with full specs, options and pricing to be revealed closer to launch.
“Whenever I speak to our dealers, they tell me that customers consistently ask about F-150, ask when it is coming, so I am very proud to now be able to say it’s heading our way,” said Birkic.
“There are just so many passionate F-150 fans out there and we’re all thrilled to be able to bring this iconic truck to our roads with locally remanufactured right hand drive models.”