New Ford Eco-Boost V6 Needs Sales Boost?
Die-hard Ford fans and industry observers alike (myself included) have been quick to give Ford credit for creating the Eco-Boost V6. What’s not to love about a fuel-efficient twin-turbo V6 with torque and horsepower figures that are comparable to a V8?
Indeed, Ford’s Eco-Boost has been considered the “next evolution” of truck engines because it’s becoming harder and harder for V8 engines to satisfy new fuel economy and emissions rules. Ford was very smart to bring the Eco-Boost to market, as they are ahead of the curve in terms of efficiency.
HOWEVER, many people (including myself) wondered if the Eco-Boost would be accepted by consumers. Considering today’s news that Ford is offering an extra $500 cash back on certain F150s with the EcoBoost engine, it sounds like consumers aren’t quite ready to jump on the twin-turbo V6 band wagon. At least not in their trucks.
The question: Is this about the EcoBoost, or is this about truck buyers?
Since there is almost no data to suggest the Eco-Boost V6 is a bad engine, and since there are so many positive reviews of the engine (here, here, and here, for example), it’s hard to believe that people aren’t buying the Eco-Boost because of something they’ve read or heard.
Still, car manufacturers don’t put cash incentives on brand new high-tech engines unless they start to sense consumers aren’t interested…which is why this news about a $500 cash incentive on some Eco-Boost F150s is so interesting. My theory?
Truck Buyers Often Resist Change
It’s no secret that truck owners are a technologically stubborn bunch. I can think of half a dozen technological enhancements/advances that many truck owners have resisted or object to currently:
- Automatic hubs and electronic transfer cases
- Streamlined/aerodynamic body work (remember the anger over the new streamlined looks in the late 90’s?)
- The elimination of manual transmissions despite the increased capability and improved fuel economy of automatics
- Composite truck beds (like Toyota has with the Tacoma)
- Traction and stability control
- Aluminum heads (remember the aluminum head hub-bub with the Duramax?)
- Variable valve timing (Toyota was roundly criticized for the i-Force 4.7’s VVTi back in 2000)
To be clear, I understand a lot of these objections and I hold some myself. I’m a fan of traction and stability control, but I’m also a fan of being able to disable electronic nannies (and it’s not easy to disable stability control on a Tundra). I’m a fan of automatic transmissions, but I recognize why others aren’t. I like the convenience of automatic hubs, but I’ve seen first-hand why many heavy off-road users hate them.
When it comes right down to it, truck owners don’t usually endorse new technology. If I had to guess, I would say it’s because, generally speaking, truck buyers have quite a bit more mechanical knowledge and experience than your typical car buyer (excepting perhaps a sports car buyer). As a result of this experience, truck buyers are often happy with existing tools and technology and see very little reason to upgrade something that already works.
Which brings us back to Ford’s Eco-Boost V6. Last year, I talked about the fact that many would question the Eco-Boosts durability, and it seemed that Ford had many of the same concerns about consumer perceptions. Why else would they have arranged their “Eco-Boost Tear Down” gimmick?
Bottom Line: Ford’s Eco-Boost engine may represent the future of all truck engines, but that doesn’t mean truck buyers are excited about it. It says here that Ford will have to work to sell the Eco-Boost engine until they can demonstrate conclusively that it is reliable…and that will take years.
In the meantime, Ford must be careful about discounting the Eco-Boost. Too many cash incentives might give consumers the wrong idea about this engine.
Filed Under: Auto News