The long-awaited return of the F-150 to Ford Australia showrooms is still on track, with dealers taking orders.
That’s despite pricing not yet being released for the two-model range.
“We’ve had a lot of interest on our website, and certainly dealers are taking orders,” Ford Australia president Andrew Birkic told CarExpert.
“We haven’t released pricing yet. We’re working through that now, so I think that will be the next trigger point to drive further orders and we can shore up some customers with the specifications.”
“We’ve made really good progress, so we’ve built some initial vehicles,” said Mr Birkic, confirming the company is still “in a good place” for a launch in mid-2023.
“And we’re doing a comprehensive level of testing. And as we mentioned at the launch, Ford Engineering is involved in that.
“RMA Automotive have a facility out near our new parts warehouse in Mickleham. And you know, we’ve worked with RMA around the world, we know they’re a really strong, strong partner of ours.
“But obviously the lens needs to be on quality and doing it right. It’s a significant investment.”
The F-150 will initially be available only in XLT and Lariat guise with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre petrol V6 as Ford Australia establishes the local re-manufacturing process, but the company has said it “has an open mind” about expanding the local range.
The EcoBoost V6 overtook the F-150’s V8 option several years ago in sales in the US market, which makes it the logical choice for Australia – even as the rival Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, remanufactured by Walkinshaw, come only with V8s.
The 3.5-litre produces 298kW of power and 678Nm of torque, out punching the Ram 1500’s 5.7-litre V8 (291kW and 556Nm) and comparing favourably with the Silverado 1500’s 6.2-litre V8 (313kW and 624Nm).
It’s mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission and boasts a braked towing capacity of 4500kg, up 1000kg on the smaller Ranger.
The car will be backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and will be sold and serviced through the Ford Australia dealer network.
While just two variants will be offered here at first, the F-150 is offered in a dizzying array of permutations in its home market where it is consistently the best-selling vehicle.
There are also regular, Super Cab and dual-cab body styles, a choice of three tub lengths, and additional V6 and V8 engine options including a hybrid.
The XLT and Lariat are mid-range models in Ford’s US model range, slotting below the more luxurious King Ranch, Platinum, and top-spec Limited.
When it comes here, the F-150 will find itself battling not only its rivals from Ram and Chevrolet, but also potentially a vehicle from Australia’s best-selling brand.
Toyota has confirmed an “extensive program is underway” to re-engineer the recently revealed, third-generation Tundra for right-hand drive, though it hasn’t officially confirmed a launch.
It’s working with Walkinshaw, who also handle remanufacturing of the Ram 1500 and Silverado.
The first Tundra prototypes are expected to show up on local roads in September 2022, with a further 300 mules set to hit Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023 “as part of the final validation stage of the RHD program”.
Another possible competitor is a full-sized pickup truck from Chinese brand GWM, which previewed a production model with its X Cannon concept last year.
The Chinese pickup packed a 260kW/500Nm turbo-petrol V6, which will also find its way into the roughly Ranger-sized Shanhai Cannon expected to launch in Australia.
The F-150 was last seen in local Ford showrooms in 1993, though its heavier-duty F-250 and F-350 siblings were sold here from 2001 to 2006 in factory right-hand drive, courtesy of Ford’s plant in Brazil.
MORE: Everything Ford F-150