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Ugga Mugga

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Nov 3, 2017
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Wheels spoke with the men in charge of the Ranger Raptor program at the new ute’s long-lead media launch, and they revealed there's potential to make it even more capable by harnessing new technology and, eventually, electrification.

When we asked how Ford plans for improve the ute come facelift time, Ford’s program director for icons and Ford Performance, Ali Jammoul, said: “For this generation Ranger Raptor we’ve built in additional capability. Technology keeps growing and the way we did that was adding more and more technology to the vehicle and evolving our depth in the segment that we learnt through all our Raptor models.

“So we’re leveraging technology to give it that capability and hey, in the next generation we’ll probably leverage even more progression of that technology in the suspension and chassis. Same with performance and powertrain technology, electrification is certainly a big part. We don’t have any plans right now, but you can see the future has lots of potential for even more capability.”

“Every vehicle has constraints and compromises that you have to deal with,” said Jammoul. “Clearly there’s opportunity for hybrids on these higher performing vehicles. We’re looking at that; no plans yet, but we’re certainly looking at it.

“If you add weight, my personal opinion is you just take it out from somewhere else. And if you add it, add it in the right places.”

Leveraging lightweight materials and different grades of high-strength steel are two ways weight can be taken out of the Raptor, according to Jammoul.

“You can optimise the vehicle and take weight out where you don’t see that much stress. For sure there are opportunities.”

Ford is also exploring which combustion engine to pair with the hybrid tech. Moving to a smaller capacity unit would also save valuable kilos.

“If we electrify and do a hybrid what is the right engine to do it on?”, asked Jammoul. “In the regular F-150 we have a hybrid [paired with a 3.5-litre V6], so it really depends how much performance you want from the vehicle. It does help to downsize and we’ve got the 2.3-litre [four-cylinder], the 2.7-litre and the 3.0-litre in our portfolio. Which do we go for? We’re studying that.”

Offering buyers a powertrain with more performance that also uses less fuel is the goal. The petrol V6-powered Raptor might be the most powerful in its class, but it’s also thirstier than its rivals.

“It also helps with fuel economy, too,” added Jammoul. “Even in these vehicles people are going to think about fuel and how much economy you have.”

Gauging customer demand for a hybrid performance ute is another important consideration. The tech is yet to gain a foothold in the regular ute market in Australia, although the new Ranger, which is due in showrooms this June, is ‘hybrid ready’.

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