Ford will develop an all-new pick-up truck range – its top-selling North American model – in the first phase of a $US7 billion annual product renewal programme, The Financial Times (FT) reported.


The newspaper said that the Ford group vice-president who heads North American operations, Jim Padilla, has signed off an estimated $1.0-1.5 billion investment in a new range of F-series trucks.


Interviewed by the FT, Padilla said Ford “would go after pick-ups” after this year’s launch of a new Expedition SUV, the only new vehicle planned for the US this year.


“We’ll concentrate on super duty pick-ups and we’ll line up a new F-150 truck, and shortly after that we’ll turn to the car line-up,” Padilla told the FT.


The FT said that F-series trucks accounted for 912,000 of Ford’s 3.97 million unit sales in North America last year, or almost 23 per cent of the total, with the F-150 model accounting for two-thirds of sales.


However, Forbes magazine auto commentator Jerry Flint has crunched the numbers and argues it’s not that simple.


On the Forbes.com website Flint argues that the F-150 Ford pickup (two doors, four doors, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive) accounted for about 346,000 of the nearly 912,000 sales while roughly 390,000 went as giant Super Duty pickups, mostly to commercial buyers. The SuperCrew, which Flint describes as “a sort of sports utility cab with a short-bed pickup attached” accounted for about 170,000 units.


Flint argues that for “bragging rights”, the standard Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup (not the big Heavy Duty models) actually outsold its basic Ford F-150 counterpart last year with 465,000 sales versus Ford’s 346,000.


“Beyond bragging rights, though, these numbers say that the Ford regular pickup line isn’t as strong as we all thought. Even Chrysler‘s Dodge Ram with 250,000 sales last year, excluding its heavy-duty versions, is a close competitor,” Flint wrote.


In extra-big pickups, Flint added, GM (i.e. Chevrolet plus GMC) is closing in on Ford with GM gaining ground due to an improved truck line and powerful new diesel engine.


“Ford hopes that its big new diesel coming later this year will keep its super big boys from being passed by GM,” Flint said.