Ford's 2018 diesel-powered F-150 unveiled at the Detroit motor show this week could be a sneak peek of the next North American model set for Australian shores, following on the success of the Mustang.
The iconic ute is North America's top-selling vehicle but the introduction of a diesel engine option for the first time could broaden its appeal to countries outside of the USA where petrol prices are still relatively cheap.
Speaking to Australian media at the 2018 Detroit motor show, Ford Executive Vice President and President of Asia Pacific, Peter Fleet, admitted the unexpected success of the pony car in Australia has opened the door for the next-generation F-150 to be considered for right-hand drive production.
“Yes… the availability of diesel in F-150 would make a discussion about whether it could be sold in right-hand drive markets a less difficult conversation, but it is still a very challenging conversation,” Fleet said.
“When you look at the success of Mustang; we took one of our iconic North American brands and globalised it… there is a lesson there, those sort of things work.”
Though still early in the piece and avoiding any commitment to bring the American ute to Australia, Fleet said that “trucks” – meaning the popular Ranger ute – will continue to be a focal point for Ford in Australia, and building on that momentum was critical.
Ford will extend the appeal of the Ranger later this year with a mid-life facelift that includes the introduction of the high-performance Ranger Raptor – a desert-busting truck with modified suspension, higher ground clearance and an all-new powertrain with a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.
The potential introduction of the F-150 – which would only come following the debut of next-generation model in the early 2020’s at the soonest – would add another player to the burgeoning full-size pick-up market in Australia with the Walkinshaw Group involved in the conversion of Ram trucks and the Chevrolet Silverado.
Fleet added: “The big decision first is whether we are going to globalise these big iconic brands. And that hasn’t even been discussed yet.”
But he said he would personally take any opportunity to grow Ford’s presence in new segments wherever he could.
“I am a big advocate of trying to make more of these iconic brands we have within the company and if I have any opportunity to bring those vehicles to Australia I’ll be at the front of the queue,” he said.
The F-150 Power Stroke features a 3.0-litre turbo V6 engine that produces 186kW and 600Nm and can tow a maximum of 5200kg with a payload of near one tonne.
MORE: Ford News and Reviews