Last week we were in Detroit for the press introduction of the 2009 Ford F-150, where we learned amid a changing market that Ford has decided to postpone the public launch of the new half-ton by two months. We also got wind that the next generation BOSS engines have been hugely scaled back. What does this mean for the Raptor?
As you know we have been hot on the heels of Ford’s hugely anticipated long-travel 4x4 Raptor for months now, and we recently reported that Raptor got the green light from management, complete with spy photos of a new prototype built on the 2009 chassis (as opposed to the current generation bodystyle mules we've seen previously). We knew from reliable sources that the Raptor’s sole engine would be the 6.2L BOSS V-8.
Last week while Ford was putting on a brave face introducing its 2009 F-150, we were learning behind the scenes from sources that Ford had scaled back the BOSS engine program. As Amy Wilson of Automotive News reports, and from information we corroborated from our own sources, we know that Ford is no longer planning on using the BOSS engine family in the 2010 F-150. Our sources tell us that work continues on at Ford until they hear otherwise from management, and that the engine could still be a candidate for the Super Duty. As you might recall, the BOSS program was formerly known as the Hurricane, and was revived by Mark Fields as Ford’s next-gen big displacement workhorse engine for its F-Series pickup trucks.
What does this mean for Raptor? Well considering that the Raptor was to be built on the same assembly line as the F-150, it is not economically feasible to install tooling in the plant to install and test an engine that is only going to be in one limited production model, so the death of BOSS for the F-150 also means the death of Boss for the Raptor.
Will this be the end of the Raptor program? While we have heard rumblings that because of the BOSS news, that the Raptor program is “under review” with a likelihood of it not going forward, we have word from some sources closer to the program that there are enthusiasts within Ford still fighting for it and it could go forward, but with a different drivetrain. If this is indeed the case, the introduction of the desert bad boy would be pushed back from the original planned date while development validation is completed on this new engine. Lets face it, Ford has already developed the truck and is less than a year from introducing it – the work is done. If money can be made off of the truck (and I am one of those willing to part with my own cash), it will proceed.
If Raptor goes on, what engine will it get? This is a great question, one that we wonder if Ford even has an answer to yet. The current engines that will be available for the 2009 F-150 are updated 4.6L 2V, 4.6L 3V, ana 5.4L 3V V-8s of the modular Triton family we are familiar with. Our guess would be that the current engines soldier on a bit longer than originally anticipated, which would make a supercharged 5.4L, like the one available in the 2008 F-150 Harley-Davidson truck a good candidate considering the production line limitations to other engines. Incidentally, we were expecting around 400hp from the BOSS 6.2L, and the 5.4L in the Harley-Davidson F-150 puts out 450hp – more than enough. To us this means the engine could be detuned slightly to a still impressive 400hp to retain durability. And don’t forget we ran a 280hp supercharged 4.0L V-6 in my long travel Project RangeRunner without issue for over 50,000-miles, so we assure you that type of setup can be used effectively in a desert environment.
We also hear that a 5.0L V-8 is in the works, which is hoped to produce about the same horsepower rating, but normally aspirated. We would guess that this engine is too early in it development to be a possibility in the Raptor right now.
For an in-depth look at what market challenges Ford is facing - and its response, check out Mike Levine’s story over at www.pickuptrucks.com.
Sean P. Holman
Tech Editor – Four Wheeler Magazine