Fuel efficiency and heavy duty trucks haven’t traditionally been talked about in the same sentence. That’s changed now, thanks to the 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty®.
Ford recently invited journalists to test-drive the new Super Duty in Arizona. During the program, Ford challenged these reporters to a contest to see who could achieve the best fuel economy while driving a the Ford-built 6.7-liter Power Stroke® V8 on an 80-mile stretch of surface roads and highways. The winning media team on the first round achieved 29.2 mpg and the second an astonishing 34 mpg!
Three-person media teams drove from Buckeye to Glendale, Arizona, in an F-250 or F-350 with 1,000 pounds of payload. Depending on vehicle configuration, media teams were expected to meet targets of 26.5 mpg (pickups with 17-inch wheels and a 3.31:1 axle ratio) or 24 mpg (pickups with 20-inch wheels and a 3.55:1 axle ratio) while driving the 80 miles in a time frame consistent with what Ford engineers achieved.
Drivers were given fuel economy tips from the Ford vehicle energy engineering team and a few ground rules: stay on the specified route, follow the provided turn-by-turn directions and drive at the posted speeds (no speeding and no crawling).
Winning the first wave was the team of Bob Plunkett, Chuck Bowen and Sue Mead. Plunkett, a syndicated auto journalist, drove; Bowen, managing editor of Lawn & Landscape, and Mead, a writer for newcartestdrive.com, navigated. The team achieved 29.2 mpg.
“I was in awe of what that vehicle was able to do,” said Plunkett, who has participated in fuel economy challenges before. “It’s a huge machine and to pull those figures is very impressive.”
Bowen echoed those thoughts. “I was very impressed,” he said. “My car does not get much better mileage than that.”
Fuel economy on the all-new 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty equipped with the Ford-engineered and Ford-built 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine averages an 18-percent improvement for pickup models and up to 25-percent improvement for chassis cabs versus 2010 models.
Renowned hypermiler Wayne Gerdes, owner of cleanmpg.com, won the second round at 34 mpg. He had the Ford optimizations as well as his own techniques in hand as he looked to better the mark during the second wave of media drives. He drove a Super Duty with 17-inch wheels.
“Honestly, when I heard they got 29 the first day, I thought I’d be lucky to get 25 mpg,” said Gerdes, who was an important adviser to the Ford team that achieved 1,445 miles on a single tank of gas in a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid last April. “I was hoping to get 25 to 27 mpg.”
Gerdes used several different techniques, including keeping the revs around 1,000, slowly accelerating and using the drafts of other cars and trucks. The result: an astounding 34 mpg for the route, beating the target by 8 mpg.
Gerdes followed that up by driving the F-250 from the Phoenix area to his home north of Chicago. He covered 1,907 miles on 68.094 gallons of fuel for an average of 28 mpg. Gerdes said weather conditions – rain, fog and strong winds – caused him to drive about 6 to 8 mph slower than he anticipated. Still, Gerdes completed his journey on less than three tanks of fuel and blended his own B20 biodiesel to use the whole way, another testament to the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel’s performance story.
“I’ve never driven anything like this – this was fun and a great challenge,” said Gerdes. “I’ve driven SUVs half this size and not achieved this level of fuel economy. This is just incredible and world-class.”
“It was a good test of the engine and of the overall efficiency,” said Szczesny, who did the driving. “We heard that someone had achieved 26 mpg, so we were definitely shooting for better than that.”
To verify the fuel economy numbers in the media challenge, the 2011 Super Duty diesels were tracked with CrewChief™, a component of available Ford Work Solutions™, a technology package that can help owners manage their business from the work site.
CrewChief is a fleet telematics and diagnostics system that allows fleet owners to efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to job sites and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records.
Gerdes also took advantage of another Ford Work Solutions component, namely the in-dash computer. Developed with Magneti Marelli and powered by Microsoft Auto, the in-dash computer provides full high-speed Internet access via Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and navigation by Garmin. It’s the first broad-band capable in-dash computer in production and is operated when the vehicle is stationary.
During breaks, Gerdes tweeted (www.twitter.com/cleanmpg) from the truck’s in-dash computer and posted text and photo updates of “Wayne’s Excellent 2011 Ford Super Duty Adventure” to his Web site.