The 2019 Ford F-150 Restricted pickupMack Hogan | CNBCThe significance of a brand new F-150 pickup to Ford Motor has by no means been better.The automaker wants its extremely worthwhile flagship product to drive a worldwide restructuring plan and repay debt associated to the coronavirus pandemic. It additionally must persuade Wall Street that the corporate can retain its decades-long management place within the section as new and conventional rivals start to supply all-electric pickups.Ford’s response to those rivals consists of vans with conventional inside combustion engines in addition to new hybrid and all-electric variations. It is also including considerably extra know-how to the truck, which has been America’s best-selling car for 38 consecutive years and the nation’s top-selling truck for greater than 40 years.”We have stayed No. 1 for 43 years now. We’re very centered on elevating that bar once more and letting the competitors observe,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of The Americas, instructed CNBC. “It’s clearly an important launch.”Ford is scheduled to unveil the standard and hybrid variations of the 2021 F-150 on Thursday evening. The all-electric model is anticipated someday within the subsequent two years — in line or barely later than new electrical pickups from Common Motors, Tesla and start-up producer Rivian.The significance of Ford’s full-size pickups, which embrace the F-150 and bigger vans, cannot be overstated. The vans accounted for 37% of the automaker’s 2.four million automobiles bought final yr within the U.S. — 10 proportion factors greater than in 2010.”A lot of Ford’s efficiency and livelihood is resting on this car” mentioned Jessica Caldwell, govt director of trade evaluation at Edmunds. “The F-150 is Ford’s cash cow.” The F-150 is a key a part of the automaker’s plans to profitably develop the industrial facet of Ford’s enterprise to assist an $11 billion restructuring and repay greater than $20 billion in new debt as a result of coronavirus. The practically 900,000 F-Collection pickups Ford bought final yr within the U.S. generated about $42 billion in income, in accordance with a research Ford commissioned from the Boston Consulting Group. Ford’s automotive income was $143.6 billion in 2019.Wall Street stays skeptical of the corporate’s turnaround. It has been significantly vital of Ford CEO and President Jim Hackett. Since Hackett began main the automaker in May 2017, the stock’s price has practically been lower in half and its credit standing has been downgraded to “junk.” Ford shares, which have a market value of $24.5 billion, closed Tuesday at $6.15, down 2.1%. Shares are down 33.9% because the starting of the yr.New techFord should add sufficient new know-how to the pickup with out alienating its conventional truck consumers, who’re among the many most loyal and passionate shoppers within the automotive trade. It is one thing Ford is conscious of and has completed with the brand new F-150, in accordance with Ford’s Galhotra.That features providing over-the-air, or distant, updates in addition to an built-in energy generator. The onboard generator, he mentioned, will be capable to energy up instruments and different gear.The complete truck, in accordance with Galhotra, is “designed round these sorts of concepts” that may allow higher efficiency and extra comfort for patrons.Galhotra mentioned Ford employed anthropologists to help in understanding how truck house owners use their automobiles and the way to make the perfect enhancements. That features Ford’s determination to supply hybrid and all-electric variations of the truck.”The section dimension is so massive,” Galhotra mentioned. “The forms of clients have very, very completely different wants.”Galhotra declined to touch upon anticipated gross sales for the hybrid model, which he mentioned may present incremental progress by attracting new clients to the pickup section. Pickups with conventional gasoline and diesel engines are anticipated to stay nearly all of gross sales for the foreseeable future, he mentioned. The F-150 additionally would be the first with Ford’s new electrical structure, or brains, of the car. The gear is a key enabler for superior driver-assist methods similar to Ford’s “Energetic Drive Help,” an superior system akin to Tesla’s Autopilot.”It is actually about know-how and productiveness,” Ford Chief Working Officer Jim Farley instructed traders concerning the F-150 throughout a Deutsche Bank convention earlier this month.Aggressive segmentDespite hype for all-electric pickups, the automobiles are anticipated to stay a small minority of gross sales. That’s, as soon as they go on sale. All-electric pickups from GM, Tesla, Rivian and others similar to Nikola and Lordstown Motors aren’t anticipated to enter manufacturing till at the very least subsequent yr.In the intervening time, Ford is anticipated to deal with the non-EV model of its prized pickup, which has come underneath assault from newer models from GM and Fiat Chrysler in recent times.”For awhile it was laborious to conquest truck consumers, however we’re seeing extra of that occur. We’re simply seeing the loyalty numbers go down,” Edmunds’ Caldwell mentioned. “The market share numbers present how aggressive this section has been.” Fiat Chrysler’s Ram model has carried out a powerful job in gaining market share since 2015, which was when Ford final launched a brand new F-150. Market share of the Ram 1500 has grown from lower than 20% in 2015 to 25.1% in 2019, in accordance with Edmunds. The best progress occurred after the corporate unveiled a brand new model of the pickup in 2018 that was well-received, together with a bigger, extra comfy inside.The 2019 Ford F-150 Restricted pickupMack Hogan | CNBCThe launch of the latest Ram 1500, Caldwell mentioned, was profitable in gaining house owners from different manufacturers, significantly due to the corporate’s deal with the car’s inside.Coronavirus pandemicThe significance of the F-150 is also vital as a result of coronavirus pandemic. Gross sales of pickups haven’t declined as a lot as different segments this yr. The truth is, automakers, together with Ford, have prioritized the manufacturing of pickups as a consequence of low inventories following plant shutdowns from March to mid-May as a consequence of Covid-19.”The F-150 is admittedly essential to Ford, significantly now with the pandemic,” Caldwell mentioned. “Pickup truck gross sales have carried out pretty nicely over the previous three months.”Ford is nicely conscious that there is no room for error within the launch of the brand new F-150. Farley made it clear to traders earlier this month that missteps that plagued the redesigned Ford Explorer final yr is not going to be repeated.”The setup for the F-150 is admittedly completely different than Explorer,” he mentioned, including the 2 crops that produce Ford’s vans in Michigan and Missouri do not should be utterly rebuilt with the brand new models.