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.”
The F-150 will be imported to Australia, where it’ll be remanufactured in right-hand drive by RMA Automotive at a facility in Mickleham, Victoria.
“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.
The range includes the electric Lightning, the Baja-ready Raptor and the even hotter, supercharged V8-powered Raptor R.
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