DETROIT -- With gasoline prices up, persuading truck buyers to take a V-6 instead of a V-8 has proved easier than Ford Motor Co. had expected.
Sales of Ford F-150 pickups with the optional EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 engine have surpassed company estimates, and some dealers report robust demand.
"We had a sales forecast, but it has jumped up a little faster than we thought," said Marc Lapine, consumer marketing manager for Ford.
The EcoBoost V-6 is one of Ford's newest engines, offering horsepower and torque comparable to a V-8 and the fuel economy of a V-6.
The price of the optional EcoBoost engine ranges from $750 to $1,750 depending on the F-150 model. Production began in January. The engine increases fuel economy up to 20 percent and cuts carbon dioxide emissions up to 15 percent compared with comparable V-8s, Ford says.
Preliminary numbers for April showed that EcoBoost-equipped F-150s accounted for 36 percent of F-150 sales and 40 percent of orders, Lapine said. There is a 13-day supply of F-150s with the option, he said.
"We thought there would be a little more time between the early adopters and the other people who said, 'Hey, now I am ready to buy it,'" Lapine said. "It is not staying put very long."
Ford told dealers that demand for the EcoBoost V-6 would evolve slowly because owners of V-8 pickups would be reluctant to buy trucks with smaller engines.
Wayne Seidel, general manager of Hiller Ford in Franklin, Wis., said the response to the EcoBoost F-150 has been "awesome."
"As soon as this fuel thing started, probably two months ago, all of a sudden people are coming in, asking, 'Do you have an EcoBoost?' I've sold every one that I can get my hands on," Seidel said. "The reception of the truck has been beyond our expectations."