Ford extends SuperDuty field tests

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The new 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty is fitting in so well on the job that it’s being asked to stick around longer. Based on customer requests, Ford Motor Company is extending its unprecedented Ford F-Series Super Duty fieldwork evaluation program through the end of 2010 to select extreme-duty commercial customers. That means these preproduction Super Duty models will have earned their keep for a full year in some of the toughest work environments around.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback from these severe-duty users – and their desire to extend the program – confirms the thoroughness of the rigorous testing procedures developed for the 2011 Super Duty as it evolved from raw data to computer images to actual vehicle.
“We tested the 2011 Super Duty in every situation imaginable throughout the development process, but nothing can replace these real-world scenarios,” said Chris Brewer, chief engineer of the 2011 Super Duty.

In Texas, for example, two businesses are working their 2011 Super Duty trucks to the extreme during the busy road-construction season. Both Reynolds Asphalt & Construction Co. of Euless and TexOp Construction of Roanoke have evaluation trucks equipped with the new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine and the 6R140 heavy-duty TorqShift™ six-speed automatic transmission.
The vehicles used by Florida Power & Light Company are driven all around the Sunshine State, on-road and off-road, often traveling up to 600 miles a day. They also power through swampy terrain in the Florida Everglades or bull across inaccessible roads to get power back online and respond to other customer needs.

Outstanding fuel economy while standing up to harsh conditions
Reynolds Asphalt has a 2011 Super Duty F-550 4×2 dual rear-wheel chassis cab upfitted with a mechanic’s bed to use as a service truck for the company’s heavy-duty equipment. Essentially a garage on wheels, it services rollers, pavers and other support equipment. The F-550 chassis cab, with class-exclusive Live Drive PTO (power takeoff), carries welding equipment, compressors and a crane body to expedite repairs.

The Live Drive PTO output gear is linked through the torque converter to the engine crankshaft. The power is available any time the engine is running, with the vehicle moving as well as stationary.
“The 2011 Super Duty is a big key to boosting productivity because we can use it to get to locations not easily accessible and get equipment repaired,” said George White, equipment manager of Reynolds Asphalt.

The total weight of added equipment approaches the maximum payload limits of the class-leading 19,500-pound GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the F-550 truck.

“We definitely have it loaded down, but the fuel mileage has been excellent – about a 20 to 25 percent improvement in highway situations over the truck it replaced,” said White.
The work will get even tougher in the coming months, as Texas already has seen 100-degree temperatures.

TexOp truck busy day and night
TexOp Construction is working a 2011 Super Duty F-350 4×4 Crew Cab XL dual rear-wheel pickup outfitted with toolboxes to assist with maintenance. It also tows Bobcat skid-steer loaders and other equipment on a double-axle tandem gooseneck trailer to job sites.

“This truck has a lot more power and better mileage,” said Richard Webb, equipment and construction manager for TexOp Construction. “The throttle response and acceleration are outstanding. We’re glad to have it during this upcoming busy season.”
The Super Duty F-350 is used on the highway and off-road in about a 50-50 split. “We have to drive it on basically what’s going to be the base of the road, which can be slick mud,” said Webb. “It’s kind of an obstacle course, really.”

This 2011 F-350 leads a double life, working on a 3,000-acre Texas ranch, pulling horse trailers and hauling hay and ranch equipment.
Florida Power & Light trucks ready at a moment’s notice
Florida Power & Light Company employs a 2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty XL Super Cab 4×4 and an F-250 XLT Crew Cab 4×2. The 4×2 truck is used for towing about 20 percent of the time with the 4×4 truck towing and/or off-road about 80 percent of the time.

The main use of the truck is to keep underground – and underwater – power cables online. This entails driving all around Florida’s highways and “off the beaten path” to areas inaccessible to most vehicles.
“In our business, we need a truck that delivers outstanding fuel economy on the highway and also is capable of tackling the wetlands, swamps and ditches,” said Ray Haering, acquisition specialist for Florida Power & Light. “Our Super Duty pickups have been outstanding meeting those needs.”

The new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine is significantly quieter than the outgoing product, which makes using the available hands-free SYNC® system that much easier – and more productive.

“Before, you literally had to pull over and shut off the engine to talk,” said Joe Heatherly, Florida Power & Light driver. “This new engine is so much quieter, and with the SYNC system, we’re now much more productive.

“We can stay on the road and conduct business, stay in contact with the office or contractors or customers – all without driver distraction. We run up 3,000 or 4,000 minutes a month on our phones, so this has been a tremendous time saver and a huge benefit and more valuable than I would have imagined.”

The towing capability of the new Super Duty has been put to the test by both a 9,000-pound long-bed trailer that tows a 26-foot boat that aids in service efforts and an enclosed box trailer.
“With the power, torque and off-the-line performance, with the revs so low, it’s like there’s nothing back there – it’s that easy,” said Heatherly.

Heatherly has been impressed with the new diesel’s power and fuel economy as well as the new Super Duty’s off-road capability – even with his two-wheel-drive truck.

“The off-road performance has been close to what you might expect with a four-wheel-drive truck. I was shocked,” said Heatherly.
Florida Power & Light also regularly takes advantage of the new Super Duty’s increased biodiesel capability. The new diesel engine is B20 compatible, which allows customers an additional fueling option that uses blends of up to 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. This option is increasingly important to companies looking to “green” their fleets.

“Because of the extensive development work done with the 2011 Super Duty, especially with the new diesel engine, we had every confidence that even preproduction examples would be outstanding performers,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck marketing manager. “With these trucks delivering outstanding capability and fuel economy, it’s understandable why these businesses want to keep them on the team as long as possible.”