Ford’s new 4×2 heavy-duty prime mover took many by surprise when it was launched at the Hannover IAA Truck Show.
Ford has kept many of the details of the truck secret and few were aware of its arrival until it was announced as the winner of the IToY.
F-Max has apparently been under development since being given the greenlight by management in 2013 and appears to signal Ford’s move back into heavy commercial vehicles, at least outside North America.
Ford in the USA sold off its heavy truck division to Daimler Trucks in 1997 with its well-loved L Series or Louisville range becoming Sterlings, before Daimler killed the brand off entirely in 2008.
In Europe the Ford Cargo has grown out of its medium duty origins offering a 4×2 prime mover with up to a 480 hp power plant as well as a heavy medium rigid line up.
The F Max is a huge step up from the Cargo it will replace offering a full flat floor with a 2.16metre floor to ceiling height, 260mm seat adjustment range, double bunks and a cab that matches anything from its contemporary rivals such as Scania and Volvo.
At least in the short term the F-Max will be offered only in 4×2 format however the company clearly has designs on getting back into heavy transport.
Ford’s stated corporate strategy into the future is to concentrate on SUVs, performance cars, pick ups and commercial vehicles and you can’t get any more commercial than a 500hp 13 litre prime mover.
The F-Max was designed entirely by Ford internally in Europe and is made at its plant in Turkey and uses a ZF 12 –speed Traxon automated manual, however Ford says it will have its own two-pedal transmission by 2020.
In 2017, Ford’s European heavy trucks were available in 29 countries. However by the end of this year, the company says it plans to expand its network to 41 – mostly Eastern European countries.
In two years time by 2020 Ford says it wants to be present in 50 countries and forecasts that up to 50 per cent of sales will come from the European market. Winning the International Truck of the Year will help establish the new Blue Oval offering on European truck shopping lists.
With such overt and clear signals that Ford wants to market the F-Max on a world stage, the question is could the new big Ford find its way onto Australian roads?
The F-Max is built in Ford’s Turkish plant, which is where Ford Australia sources its Ford Transit van range.
Ford Australia’s Product Communication Manager Damien Smy told Truck and Bus News that at this point in time there is no official guidance and that there are no plans at the moment.
“If a decision was made I can’t imagine the timing would see it coming here for at least two years,” Damien Smy added.
The IToY award is made at Hannover every two years and is often awarded to trucks, which are revealed and launched at the massive German based truck expo. The jury apparently tested all the trucks in the running for the award in the days prior to the show opening, allowing the F-Max to be in the running. The truck does not go on sale until early 2019.
Ford says the F-MAX has a full 2.5-metre wide cab and features Ford’s own 500 hp/2500Nm Ecotorq 12.7 litre turbo diesel and believes it will become a major player in the international transport industry.
The F-Max uses a modern cab over design that holds its own with any modern European truck designs and is a big step up from the current Ford Cargo medium duty truck that has continued to be marketed in Europe over recent years.
“Our modern design language based on prestige and power combines professionalism and innovation, while superior aerodynamics, optimum calibration and technical specifications of powertrain and transmission, reduce fuel consumption by 6 per cent compared to the current Cargo model,” said Haydar Yenigün, general manager of Ford’s Turkish subsidiary, Ford Otosan.
Ford claims the new prime mover also decreases maintenance costs by up to 7 per cent and offers longer maintenance intervals, delivering lower total cost of ownership.
The F-MAX also comes with Ford’s ConnecTruck telematics technology.
Ford claims it has invested five years of research and development into F-Max and completed 5 million kilometres of testing in 11 countries on four continents using 233 prototype units and 15,500 hours of lab testing
As a further teaser Ford also showed its first ever concept prototype truck electric truck at the Hannover !AA.
The F-Vision from Ford Trucks is a level 4 autonomous truck and reveals Ford Trucks’ future vision on electrification, autonomous and connected drive, lightweight and zero carbon emission products.
Ford says it cares about humans’ priorities both inside the cab and on the road, as well as the load being carried, and aims constantly to connect with the environment and users and communicates.
It also shows Ford is serious about a true re entry to the heavy truck market on a global scale