Ford has pulled the plug on the next-generation F-150 Lightning SVT pickup truck, instead putting all SVT's eggs into one basket: The SVT Cobra Mustang, due for the 2007 model year.
"It's a business decision," said Alan Hall, SVT spokesman. Ford said the next Lightning has been "postponed," and not killed, but it will be 2008 or later if it is revived. SVT has gone from three vehicles in 2004 -- the Lightning, the Cobra Mustang and the SVT Focus -- to none in 2005.
Ford had already shown a concept version of the next-generation Lightning in 2003. The concept had a supercharged V-8 engine with more than 500 horsepower, in answer to the Dodge Ram SRT-10, which eclipsed the Lightning as the world's fastest production pickup in a test last winter. Ford was eager to regain the crown, but has decided to deed the performance pickup-truck market over to Dodge and its 500-horse SRT-10, and to a lesser extent, Chevrolet, though the heavy all-wheel-drive Silverado SS is not in the same category.
The Lightning debuted in 1993, with a 240-horsepower version of Ford's 5.8-liter V-8. It was only a mild success, and was dropped in 1995. The F-150's redesign led to a new Lightning for 1999, featuring a 360-horsepower supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. A handful of 2004 Lightnings, not much changed from that 1999 model except for a horsepower bump to 380, remain on dealer lots. Base price: $33,560.
Apparently, cost played a major role in the decision, as the expense involved in developing and certifying a proper V8, and massaging the new-for-2004 F-150's chassis, was deemed prohibitive. Also, the next-generation Lightning's fuel mileage would likely continue to detract from Ford's Corporate Average Fuel Economy totals: The current Lightning is rated at 12 mpg city, 16 mpg highway.