California Autos Examiner

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2009 F-150: Too Much Caution or Not Enough Cash?

On a number of blogs today, spy photos of barely camouflaged 2009 F-150s surfaced. Most folks were surprised by what they didn't see, any major changes to the overall design of the truck. The truck apes a lot of styling queues from the Super Chief concept (pictured above). In case you have forgotten about the Super Chief, here's a quote from Ford:
F-250 Super Chief pays tribute to the bold optimism that is part of the American character," says Peter Horbury, executive director, North America Design. "The F-250 Super Chief's innovations pave a new path for the American truck. It's a notion – and a modern design – so bold, it could only come from Ford."
It's understandable that Ford would not want to stray too far from the path, but this redesign does look remarkably tame. The caveat that everyone is throwing out there is that we don't know what kind of engineering changes are under the hood, but I can't imagine anything too groundbreaking. Even if there were massive, all singing, all dancing leaps in performance you'd think that Ford would want a new body to show it off.

The interior shots also show what appears to be a fairly mild reworking. Judging from the myriad of buttons and faux wood finishes, I'd say that spy shot example is a fairly high end model. More than likely "work truck" interiors won't be nearly so fussy.

I have to wonder if it was a concern over screwing up a good thing or preserving cash that led to this design. Off hand, I'd have to say that it was caution that carried the day. Given the cash cow status of the F-150, I don't think that a lack of funds held back a bolder design. Clinics probably told Ford that F-150 buyers liked the way the trucks looked and instead buyers wanted functionality improvements. There are probably a ton of enhancements that the camera's lens did not capture.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that Ford is no position to "bet the farm" on a more radical redesign. The truck is a solid money earner and Ford needs the cash more than flash, so it has elected to sand down the edges on its block of wood rather than reshape it. This approach may sacrifice some new buyers, but it safeguards the hemorrhaging of F-150 faithful

Let's call the the next F-150 a "Safe Bet."

You can check out the spy shots by clicking here.

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