The Ram pickup is manufactured by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) and beat out competitors from both General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). Ford’s all-new, aluminum-body F-150 was probably the favorite for the award, but no mpg rating is yet available for the truck. The Ram 1500 posts a highway rating of 28 mpg and the diesel-powered pickup also features an eight-speed automatic transmission and a suspension system that lowers the truck at highway speed to reduce drag.
The aluminum-bodied F-150 has shed about 700 pounds since losing its steel skin, and Ford has said that the new truck is expected to improve mileage over exiting pickup models by at least 5% and perhaps as much as 20%. According to Automotive News, the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that will be available with the new F-150 would match the Ram EcoDiesel highway mileage rating if the improved mileage reaches 20%.
That is really not good enough for the new F-150. Ford has spent billions of development dollars on the aluminum-bodied trucks and is retooling two plants to build them. Anything less than a number ranking in fuel economy represents a defeat for Ford.
Ford is working on a 10-speed automatic transmission that could be available in 18 months, according to Automotive News, and that would be enough to give the F-150 the top ranking. That is, if Ram sits on its hands and does nothing, a highly unlikely scenario.
The other thing that helps Ford a little is the falling price of gasoline. Fuel economy is less of a concern to U.S. drivers when gasoline costs $3 a gallon or less. So even if Ford doesn’t get the top rating in economical pickups, sales of the new truck may not be hurt too badly.