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Ford F-150 on track for mid-2023 launch, dealers taking orders

The long-awaited return of the F-150 to Ford Australia showrooms is still on track, with dealers taking orders.

That’s despite pricing not yet being released for the two-model range.

“We’ve had a lot of interest on our website, and certainly dealers are taking orders,” Ford Australia president Andrew Birkic told CarExpert.

“We haven’t released pricing yet. We’re working through that now, so I think that will be the next trigger point to drive further orders and we can shore up some customers with the specifications.”

The F-150 will be imported to Australia, where it’ll be remanufactured in right-hand drive by RMA Automotive at a facility in Mickleham, Victoria.

“We’ve made really good progress, so we’ve built some initial vehicles,” said Mr Birkic, confirming the company is still “in a good place” for a launch in mid-2023.

“And we’re doing a comprehensive level of testing. And as we mentioned at the launch, Ford Engineering is involved in that.

“RMA Automotive have a facility out near our new parts warehouse in Mickleham. And you know, we’ve worked with RMA around the world, we know they’re a really strong, strong partner of ours.

“But obviously the lens needs to be on quality and doing it right. It’s a significant investment.”

The F-150 will initially be available only in XLT and Lariat guise with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre petrol V6 as Ford Australia establishes the local re-manufacturing process, but the company has said it “has an open mind” about expanding the local range.

The EcoBoost V6 overtook the F-150’s V8 option several years ago in sales in the US market, which makes it the logical choice for Australia – even as the rival Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, remanufactured by Walkinshaw, come only with V8s.

The 3.5-litre produces 298kW of power and 678Nm of torque, out punching the Ram 1500’s 5.7-litre V8 (291kW and 556Nm) and comparing favourably with the Silverado 1500’s 6.2-litre V8 (313kW and 624Nm).

It’s mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission and boasts a braked towing capacity of 4500kg, up 1000kg on the smaller Ranger.

The car will be backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and will be sold and serviced through the Ford Australia dealer network.

While just two variants will be offered here at first, the F-150 is offered in a dizzying array of permutations in its home market where it is consistently the best-selling vehicle.

The range includes the electric Lightning, the Baja-ready Raptor and the even hotter, supercharged V8-powered Raptor R.

There are also regular, Super Cab and dual-cab body styles, a choice of three tub lengths, and additional V6 and V8 engine options including a hybrid.

The XLT and Lariat are mid-range models in Ford’s US model range, slotting below the more luxurious King Ranch, Platinum, and top-spec Limited.

When it comes here, the F-150 will find itself battling not only its rivals from Ram and Chevrolet, but also potentially a vehicle from Australia’s best-selling brand.

Toyota has confirmed an “extensive program is underway” to re-engineer the recently revealed, third-generation Tundra for right-hand drive, though it hasn’t officially confirmed a launch.

It’s working with Walkinshaw, who also handle remanufacturing of the Ram 1500 and Silverado.

The first Tundra prototypes are expected to show up on local roads in September 2022, with a further 300 mules set to hit Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023 “as part of the final validation stage of the RHD program”.

Another possible competitor is a full-sized pickup truck from Chinese brand GWM, which previewed a production model with its X Cannon concept last year.

The Chinese pickup packed a 260kW/500Nm turbo-petrol V6, which will also find its way into the roughly Ranger-sized Shanhai Cannon expected to launch in Australia.

The F-150 was last seen in local Ford showrooms in 1993, though its heavier-duty F-250 and F-350 siblings were sold here from 2001 to 2006 in factory right-hand drive, courtesy of Ford’s plant in Brazil.

MORE: Everything Ford F-150

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