Ford Australia to launch right-hand-drive F-150 in 2023

The Ford F-150 four-door ute is coming to Australia.

Craig Duff

Posted March 29, 2022


The best-selling beast in the full-size pick-up American pack is about to enter Australia with the arrival of the Ford F-150 in mid-2023.

The USA’s top-selling vehicle is heading to Australia with a factory-backed conversion, but there is radio silence thus far for the inclusion of the electric Lightning or high-performance Ranger variants.

That will pit the Blue Oval against the Walkinshaw Group-modified versions of the Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado trucks that are already on sale here, mirroring the sales battle in the USA.

Ford clearly wins that fight, given the F-150 has been the best-selling full-size pick-up in its native market since 1977. Last year the company sold 726,000 F150s in the USA, compared to around 570,000 Rams and 530,000 Silverados.

The company won’t want that reputation to falter in Australia, so will be investing heavily in promotion and pricing to push the F-150 to the front of the queue.

The evolving interest in electric powertrains has not escaped Ford’s notice but for now the company is concentrating on the internal-combustion versions.

Ford Australia CEO Andrew Birkic wouldn’t be drawn on the future of other F-150 variants, other than to say Ford is aware of the interest but must see how the regular F-150 performs before looking to broaden the range.

Mounting a business case for an electric model that may not constitute big sales is much harder than going with the mainstream option, at least in the short term.

Ford F-150 specs, pricing comparison

Ford won’t talk prices yet, other than to say the F-150 will cost similar money to its competitors.

Unlike its V8-powered rivals, Ford is going with the most popular engine sold in the US, in the form for the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost. Overseas, the F-150 can be had in V6, hybrid, V8 and electric (F150- Lightning) configurations.

Ford says the V6 boasts similar power (and the same 4.5-tonne towing capacity) while offering big improvements in fuel economy compared to the competition.

The four-door 5.7-litre Dodge Ram pick-up starts at $95,950 before on-road costs. That price blows out to $168,950 for the 6.7-litre V8 Laramie edition.

Chevy’s Silverado is only sold in one specification in Australia, with the 6.2-litre LTZ coming in at $113,990 before on-roads.

It’s big money for a massive vehicle, and these pick-ups won’t come close to fitting into a standard car park.

The Ford V6 engine is good for 298Kw and 678Nm, compared to 291kW/556Nm for the 5.7-litre Ram and 313kW/624Nm for the Silverado. Local fuel consumption figures are 12.2 litres/100km for the Ram and 12.7 litre/100km for the Silverado.

Ford hasn’t released to Australia the fuel-use data but the four-wheel-drive LTZ has a 20 miles per gallon combined rating in the USA, which equates to 11.76 litres/100km.

Birkic says the F-150 represents the pinnacle of the “built Ford tough” pick-up range.

The F-150 Lariat and XLT versions will fly Ford's full-size pick-up flag in Australia.
The Ford F-150 Lariat will be the premium vehicle, but no word yet on price.
Ford describes the F-150 XLT as the "burger with the lot".

Full-size pick-up sales triple

“With such a loyal fan base, and with full-size truck sales in Australia tripling in recent years, we just knew we had to find a way to bring it back to Australia," Birkic says.

The Ford F-Series was last imported from 2001-2008, though at that time it was the bigger F-250 and F-350 versions imported from Brazil.

Based on the Ram sales, Ford is probably expecting to sell around 4,000 trucks a year.

Ford is bringing in two variants: the XLT which is aimed at tradies who tow and the Lariat, which has a touch more visual flair inside and out.

The capability of the smaller Ranger has seen it deservedly been a huge hit with private and fleet buyers, while the F-150 is expected to cater to the more affluent private buyers.

Birkic says there is room for both pick-ups and hints at future Ford product from the USA (such as the Ford Bronco and Ford Explorer SUVs).

The F-150 Lightning electric truck and F-150 Raptor performance off-roader are also both likely to resonate with Australian buyers, but Birkic says they’re not on the short-term radar as Ford focuses on the mainstream variants.

“Ranger is popular and it will continue to be so, but our customers have also been vocal in their desire for the F-150 to come back," Birkic says.

 

Ford has partnered with RMA Automotive to undertake the conversion to right-hand drive.
The F-150's tailgate doubles as a work bench and there are power outlets for tools on the sidewall of the tub.

F-150 heads new wave of product

“The F-150 is part of a new wave of Ford vehicles for our Australian customers.

“We’re listening to customers and breaking down barriers to give them what they want – the best of our global line-up. There’s more where F-150 came from.”

Ford’s investment in the conversion (the vehicles will be remanufactured by long-term Ford associates RMA Automotive) is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars. A dedicated production line will be built in Melbourne, with most of the interior components crafted locally, though Ford acknowledges some will have to be imported.

Switching the steering wheel from left to right is not an easy process. The firewall has to be reconfigured and the entire dash rebuilt to accommodate the transfer.

Ford Australia’s Global Trucks Enterprise Product Line Manager, Natalie Manariti, says the F-150 is already infused with Ford Australia DNA.

Describing the F-150 XLT as the “burger with the lot” Manariti says it is the number-one seller in the US and, as such, expected to account for the majority of sales here.

Former Broadmeadows plant manager for Ford Australia, Trevor Negus, is now overseeing the F-150 conversion at RMA, working alongside Ford Australia engineers to ensure the build quality and presentation match any factory Ford vehicle.

The F-150 will be backed by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

 

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