Plug-in technology aren’t just the darling of shoe-shaped hybrids anymore. Ford’s F-Series heavy-duty trucks are getting the chance to ride the lightning, and it could mean sweeping changes in the commercial truck segment. Don’t look for this on the popular F-150 yet, however. Think bigger. The commercial F-550 Super Duty will get the first plug-in technology from supplier Azure Dynamics, which is targeting a 2013 release date. The F-450 and F-350 Super Duties will be next.
“As interest in alternative energy products continues to grow, consumers are looking for more powertrain options that are both environmentally friendly and fit their driving needs,” said Rob Stevens, a Ford engineer. “The flexibility of our vehicle platforms and chassis allows Ford to develop our own alternative fuel products or work with partners, like Azure Dynamics, to deliver consumers with the power of choice when purchasing a greener, more fuel efficient vehicle.”
Previously, Azure worked with Ford to electrify the Transit Connect and Econoline. A commercial plug-in F-Series would target a market of 100,000 vehicles per year, and the conversion will be aimed at larger commercial fleets that will eventually trickle down to regional sales. Currently, the F-550 is available with a compressed natural-gas variant, as well as the usual array of diesel and gasoline engines.