After a hiatus of almost two decades, Ford has officially confirmed right-hand-drive availability of the F-150, but only for Australia from the middle of next year.
In confirming speculative reports and enquires from the Blue Oval’s Down Under division dating back four years, carexpert.com.au reports that the United States’ best-selling vehicle for over 30 years, which benefitted from a facelift in 2020, will be offered in two trim levels; XLT and Lariat, with a single powertrain option; the 3.5 EcoBoost V6 that punches out 294kW/678Nm.
The top-selling engine in the States, the unit is paired to the General Motors co-developed ten-speed automatic gearbox, which is entrusted with sending the amount of grunt to the rear or all four wheels via a selectable four-wheel-drive system with low range.
Unlike its already present rivals, the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, the F-150 won’t be offered with a V8 engine or, for now, with the PowerBoost hybrid that combines with the mentioned V6 with a 35 kW electric motor for a total system output of 320kW/773Nm.
As with its home-grown arch rivals, imported in left-hand-drive and then re-engineered by long-time former Holden tuner, Walkinshaw Automotive, the F-150 won’t be offloaded from the US with the steering gear on the right.
Instead, the Ford approved conversion will be handled by Melbourne based Thai firm, RMA Automotive, whose portfolio comprises armoured vehicles, ambulance and rescue vehicles, cash-in-transit vehicle production and industrial vehicle conversions.
The Blue Oval’s approval though means the F-150 will be covered by its standard five-year/unlimited km warranty and therefore serviceable at all Ford Australia dealers despite the out-of-house conversion.
Pricing remains to be confirmed though with Ford Australia CEO and President, Andrew Birkic, stating that the F-150 will be “priced favourably” against the Silverado that retails from $106 990 (R1 173 690) and the Ram that carries a starting sticker of $123 900 (R1 359 195).
“We need to be competitive. This is definitely not a hobby,” the publication quoted Birkic as saying regarding Dearborn’s seriousness of wanting the F-150 to sell in segment competitive numbers.
As a comparison, the Aussie online platform reports that 3 819 Rams were sold last year with the amount of Silverados amounting to 2 114.
Despite the Walkinshaw connection, both are distributed differently with the former falling under Ram Australia and the latter under General Motors Special Vehicles (GMSV) that replaced the disbanded Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) at the end of 2020.
While exclusive to Australia, the presence of RMA in South Africa as an approved converter of Ford Rangers for the security and mining industries has opened the potential for the F-150 to be offered locally with full support from Ford Motor Company Southern Africa.
At present though, this is purely speculative and unlikely to materialise before sales Down Under commence next year.
A general overview of the F-150’s two rivals can be found here.