Analysis

Plan on these changes to trucks from Ford, GM, and others in the second half of 2020

Ford is just one of the automakers trying to suss out how to adapt to the sudden changes to the usual automaker calendar when it comes to production and debut dates.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The year 2020 is turning out to be one for the history books. Even though we're only part of the way through March, a global pandemic is shutting down automotive production and halting economic growth. Plans to launch new automobiles have been shifted and schedules changed. But we're still expecting a big year in pickup trucks, with some pretty amazing stuff in the pipeline.

Assuming production reaches some kind of normalcy by the summer, and strong incentives to get people to buy, here's what you can expect from all the truck automakers this year.

2020 Ford Ranger The Ford Bronco will be built alongside the Ford Ranger in Michigan, eventually.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford

Starting with the largest truck manufacturer in the country, Ford has several trucks in the pipeline. The body-on-frame Ford Bronco was supposed to be revealed at the New York International Auto Show, but that show has been cancelled and an alternative reveal date hasn't been set. The Jeep Wrangler competitor has a removable roof, serious off-road components, and a design reminiscent of the iconic first-generation.

Ford has re-tooled its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan for the Ford Ranger and Bronco and word on the street is that it's ready to go.

There's also a Ford Bronco Sport that is on its way. It too was supposed to show this spring and is slated to be built at the same plant as the 2020 Ford Escape in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 2021 Ford F-150 will also debut this year and should be a complete redesign since the last mid-cycle update was in 2018. Spy shots show a new infotainment screen and instrument cluster. Don't expect dramatic changes in appearance, but expect new powertrains including a hybrid version and a full-on battery electric F-150. At this time, we'd expect to see this truck at the North American International Auto Show in June, or around that time, assuming things start to return to normal.

2022 GMC Hummer EV The 2022 GMC Hummer EV is slated to be revealed in May, but those plans may change.Photo courtesy of GMC

There is also a chance to see Ford's upcoming sub-Ranger pickup. This unibody truck will be smaller than the Ranger, likely be front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, and provide buyers an alternative to a small SUV if they really need the cargo bed. Other than some spy shots and speculation, much isn't known about the truck. If we see it this year, expect it to be towards the end of the year.

General Motors

General Motors recently updated all of their pickup trucks, including mild refreshes of both the Colorado and Canyon, so don't expect a lot happening there. Except, of course, for the revived Hummer pickup truck with a GMC badge. The fully-electric truck will debut this spring – slated for May 20th, but who knows at this point – and should do a zero-to-sixty run in about three seconds.

FCA

Ram Trucks also recently updated their entire lineup, so don't expect anything major from them for the rest of the year. But that doesn't mean that they won't roll out special editions and trims, like the Laramie Southwest version, to help drive sales.

We aren't expecting big things to happen with Jeep's pickup truck this year, since last year was the official launch of the Gladiator. A Mojave edition is hitting dealerships now, and new special editions are always in the works for the Jeep brand.

We do expect, likely this year, for Jeep to drove the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine into the Gladiator like they just did for the Wrangler. With that available engine, the Gladiator should return a respectable fuel economy number.

The new engine won't change the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck, meaning that the maximum towing Gladiator might still remain the gas engine.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave The debut of the Jeep Gladiator in December means that it's already headed to dealership lots.Photo courtesy of Jeep

Nissan

Nissan just finished launching their updated Titan and Titan XD trucks and is preparing to show us a significantly updated 2021 Frontier later this year. The new truck will be powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 and a 9-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, that engine and transmission is in the non-updated 2020 Nissan Frontier.

Toyota

Over at Toyota, we should be due for an updated and refreshed Tundra pickup. While it has received small model year changes, there hasn't been an updated engine or transmission in quite some time. Toyota has said that by 2025 every vehicle in their lineup will have some sort of electrification as an option, so an updated truck with a hybrid powertrain has to be coming. Will it be this year? Depends on how far they are along with engineering that setup.

In the meantime, the Tundra, 4Runner, and Tacoma Trail, which debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February, are the closest thing to "new "in the Toyota trucks lineup.

2020 Toyota Trail The Toyota Trail badged trucks are the newest addition to the Toyota lineup.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Hyundai

In any other year, talking about a pickup truck from Hyundai seems like crazy talk, but 2020 is different. We're expecting the production-version of the Santa Cruz concept to appear. Hyundai has confirmed that this truck (they're calling it a utility vehicle) will be built at their HMMA facility in Alabama.

We expect the truck to have a lifestyle focus appealing to people who like to get out and do things, like surf or ski or camp, and not focus on towing or payload numbers. Hyundai is aware that they can't beat the Big 3 at the truck game, but the Santa Cruz isn't designed to take sales from them.

Except it to have Hyundai's latest safety technology and phone-as-a-key technology. The real question is; will it have Smaht Pahk?

2020 Honda Ridgeline The Honda Ridgeline has gotten some new components for 2020 but it's not quite a refresh.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Honda

The often overlooked Ridgeline has gotten an equipment and features upgrade for the 2020 model year including a new nine-speed automatic transmission and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has been on sale since December. We're coming up on the timeframe for a mid-cycle fascia upgrade for the model but don't expect to see it until later this year, if that happens in 2020.

The beginning of the year looked bright for the car industry for another year, but the spread of the novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc on automotive production and automaker plans for new models. That really is the great unknown now with when we will see a new truck from a manufacturer.

Trucks like the F-150 and the Hummer are likely too far along to postpone. The Bronco is basically ready to go. Everything else could potentially be pushed back. It just depends on how serious this downturn is, how freely people can access money to buy, and whether the consumer confidence is there to buy.

We will see.

Ford has announced new employee-centric initiatives.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There's a certain helplessness that comes from being told you must stay indoors while others are out risking their lives. The Ford Motor Company Fund (Ford Fund) has announced two new opportunities for Ford employees around the world looking to reach out to their community from inside their homes.

This news follows the Ford Fund's previously announced commitment to allocating $1.6 million in resources to help communities and local nonprofits throughout Southeast Michigan and across the United States address hunger, shelter and mobility needs related to COVID-19.

Donation Match

The COVID-19 Donation Match program is a combined effort between Ford Fund and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford that will match $500,000 in donations to designated community organizations, raising a potential $1 million for groups battling the pandemic across the globe. Mr. Ford, who started the Ford Volunteer Corps 15 years ago, has committed funds to the program.

In initiative is managed by GlobalGiving, Ford's longtime disaster relief and global grant-making partner, and aims to support community projects in locations that have both a significant level of emergency need and a substantial Ford employee presence. Projects focus on addressing hunger, shelter and mobility needs, providing educational resources, or delivering critical medical supplies and services to communities in need.

Employees and others interested in donating can visit www.globalgiving.org/ford-covid-response to view a full list of participating countries as well as cities across the United States, and to learn more about community projects they can support. GlobalGiving will add new projects and additional details over the coming weeks, so employees are encouraged to check back often for updates.

Virtual volunteering

Ford Fund's new "Read and Record" virtual volunteering project invites Ford employees from around the world to record and submit videos reading a children's book in their own language. The effort is designed to provide Ford employees a way to give back from the safety and comfort of their own homes, and builds on Ford Fund's ongoing efforts to increase literacy and promote a love of reading.

The online library will be catalogued by language, and multilingual employees are encouraged to read in languages other than English. Ford Fund plans to share the library with philanthropic groups that serve children and families.

A library of free online resources to help occupy your family is available at www.fordfund.org/covid19. Activities include virtual tours, downloadable worksheets, online tutorials, videos and more – all designed to help entertain, educate or inspire people of all ages. The site's "How You Can Help" page also outlines ways employees can contribute to specific nonprofit needs for volunteers or donations of goods and supplies.

The automaker is using new 3D printing technology to create face shields.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has announced that it has reached an agreement to partner with 3M and GE Healthcare to aid in the production of medical equipment needed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, colloquially known as coronavirus. Additionally, Ford will leverage its in-house 3D printing ability to produce 100,000 face shields per week. The move has the full support of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

"This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis," said Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman. "At Ford, we feel a deep obligation to step up and contribute in times of need, just as we always have through the 117-year history of our company."

Ford 3M GE Healthcare The automaker is leveraging its manufacturing facilities to help with the crisis.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford, 3M partner on respirators

Ford and 3M will increase the manufacturing capacity of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company's powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) utilizing a new design that could be procured in a Ford facility in Michigan by UAW workers.

According to Ford, the teams have been locating "off-the-shelf parts like fans from the Ford F-150's cooled seats for airflow, 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as droplets that carry virus particles and portable tool battery packs to power these respirators for up to eight hours."

"Working with 3M and GE, we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up production of this vital equipment," said Jim Hackett, Ford's president and CEO. "We've been in regular dialogue with federal, state and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs. We are focusing our efforts to help increase the supply of respirators, face shields and ventilators that can help assist health care workers, first responders, critical workers as well as those who have been infected by the virus."

"We're exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M's capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they're needed most – which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford," said Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. "It's crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I'm incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership."

Ford 3M GE Healthcare Ford's team is already at work on perfecting techniques.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford, GE Healthcare team up to produce ventilators

In addition to the 3M partnership, Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare's existing ventilator. These ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.

"We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19," said GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy. "We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and urgently support customers as they meet patient needs."

Work on this initiative ties to a request for help from U.S. government officials.

Ford 3M GE Healthcare Ford's engineering team has come up with a design for a filtration system.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

3D printing respirators and face shields

Ford's design team is working to create and test transparent full-face shield for medical workers and first responders. The face shields fully block the face and eyes from accidental contact with liquids and when paired with N95 respirators can be a more effective way to limit potential exposure to coronavirus than N95 respirators alone.

The first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems, and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals. Roughly 75,000 of these shields are expected to be finished this week and more than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing's facilities in Plymouth, Mich.

Ford 3M GE Healthcare Ford's engineering team has shown off a sketch of a disposable hood design.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

According to a release, Ford is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan, and in-house 3D printing capabilities to manufacture disposable respirators, which are needed to help filter the air healthcare workers and first responders breathe. Once approved by the proper health agency, Ford will initially start at a pace equal to 1,000 per month but that production can grow quickly.