Ford Commercial Truck introduced the next-generation 2008 E-Series that has an all-new brake system, improved ride and handling, and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) increases to 14,500 lb.

Rob Stevens, chief engineer for E-Series, said Ford's E-Series line-up has topped its segment's sales charts for 28 straight years, accounting for more than half of all commercial vans and passenger wagons sold in 2006. He said the commercial van, wagon, and cutaway market accounted for more than 350,000 total vehicle sales last year, and E-Series commands a total market share of 49.5% while boasting a 62.8% share of the cutaway segment.

The 2008 E-Series' new design, inspired by the 2008 Super Duty, features new sheet metal from the A-pillars forward, including hood, fenders, radiator support, grille, and bumpers.

For upfitters who convert E-Series cutaways into motor homes, box vans, and a variety of other vehicles, the changes haven't affected the vehicle's critical dimensions.

“Interestingly, one important thing that many of our customers want to hear about is what's not changing,” Stevens said. “The upfitters make up an important segment of our business and have designed their tooling to fit the dimensions of our vehicles. If we change our door openings, all of their tooling becomes outdated. To that point, door structures and floor structure measurements are carryover and seat attachments are in the exact same location.”

The 2008 E-Series line-up rides on an improved chassis. A series of upgrades to the braking, suspension, and steering systems have resulted in improvements in ride and handling, braking performance, and load-carrying capability.

He said a re-engineered front suspension utilizes a new geometry and larger sway bars to provide a better stance and firmly plant the front end to the road. New valve technology on the rear shock absorbers further enhances the E-Series ride and handling, while upgrades to the steering system provide a better on center feel and reduced steering efforts.

A new braking system features larger front and rear rotors and calipers. A great swept area and new brake lining material help lower brake operating temperatures adding to pad and lining life and reducing maintenance costs.

The chassis and suspension improvements also have resulted in an increase in the maximum GVWR from 14,050 lb to a class-leading 14,500 lb. The maximum front gross axle weight rating (GAWR) is increased by about 10%, from 4600 lb to what he said is a class-leading 5000 lb.

Cutaway model

Stevens said Ford also is adding an additional E-350 SRW Cutaway model with an optional mid-ship fuel tank to allow for more usable rear GVWR. The E-450 now offers an optional 37-gallon fuel tank along with the standard 55-gallon tank.

E-Series vans are available in E-150 regular length and E-250 and E-350 regular- and extended-length models. The standard E-Series offers up to 236.5 cubic feet of rear cargo space, with up to 275.1 cubic feet in extended van versions. The standard side doors on the van are 60/40 swing-out. A sliding cargo door is a no-cost option.

The E-Series cargo area features a double-wall design that leaves the exterior sheet metal less vulnerable to damage from shifting cargo.

He said Ford offers three no-charge, ship-through cargo van upfit packages aimed directly at the commercial market. These options are designed to save money and time by allowing the van to be delivered to the dealer fully equipped.

The EconoCargo System helps protect cargo with durable panels of high-density polyethylene. It is insulated, so the interior retains heat and cold more efficiently, which he said can provide many more vocational opportunities for food service markets, produce farms, and medical suppliers.

He said the Masterack work-bin rack system includes fully installed steel shelving, drawers, and cabinets. A full-width safety partition provides work-area access from the passenger compartment.

The QuietFlex racks and bins system, similar to the traditional racks and bins offering, is made of composite material and provides a quieter, more flexible storage solution. The QuietFlex package includes a lockable composite bulkhead that offers the driver 4" of additional seat recline.

Cargo van customers can also opt for a new dome light kit available on all commercial vans, an all-new feature for the 2008 model year.

Ford's E-Guard Cargo Protection System, a factory-installed, double-locking system, provides an extra level of security. E-Guard is installed on side and rear cargo doors and is available with either power or manual door locks. The double-lock design provides an extra layer of protection, as the E-Guard double lock can be unlocked only from outside the vehicle using the key.

All models feature a new, steel-reinforced license plate bucket. The E-Guard system installs in the steel bucket for added security, while the lock itself has been re-enforced with a steel flange.

Ford's SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft system is now available on all models. To protect against theft, Fusion is equipped with Ford's SecuriLock: passive anti-theft system, which is designed to help prevent the engine from being started unless a coded key programmed to the vehicle is used.

Stability-enhancement system

He said the Ford E-Series is the only vehicle in its segment to offer standard Advance Trac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) on all E-350 wagons with the 5.4-liter V-8. It's an active stability-enhancement system that significantly builds upon existing electronic stability-control systems in the market.

He said conventional stability control systems are designed to help a driver maintain control and avoid fishtailing or spinning out. While some systems can help reduce the potential for rollover, these conventional systems do not directly measure a vehicle's roll motion or the side-to-side tilting that can occur during an accident-avoidance maneuver. Ford's RSC responds to the potential of a rollover, in addition to helping a driver avoid fishtailing or spinning out.

The 2008 E-Series utilizes an engine-only traction control (EOTC), available on all models that are not equipped with the AdvanceTrac with RSC system. The EOTC system uses the anti-lock braking system and engine torque to monitor wheel speed and vehicle speed to detect wheel spin and slip. When wheel spin or slip is detected, the electronic throttle control system reduces engine torque to the optimal level to help retain traction. With the exception of a warning light that reminds customers that conditions have become slippery, the system works in a near seamless manor.

“Engine-only traction control offers several benefits over brake-based systems,” Stevens said. “Brake-based systems often cause vehicle shudder and unexpected noise from the wheels. Brake-based systems will also reduce brake pad life as they essentially replicate power-braking maneuvers when used.”

He said the E-Series is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a standard V-8. The E-150 and E-250 cargo vans come with a 4.6-liter Triton V-8 engine and, new for the 2008 model year, the E-450 now comes standard with a 5.4L V-8.

The E-350 can opt for the 6.8L Triton V-10 delivering 305 horsepower and 420 ft-lb of torque.

Transmission choices include a four-speed automatic with overdrive mated to the 4.6L and 5.4L engines in vans and wagons. On cutaways, the 5.4L and 6.8L engines are mated to the five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission with tow/haul mode.

When properly equipped, the E-150 van can tow up to 7500 lb, the E-150 wagon up to 7100 lb, and the E-350 Super Duty and Super Duty Extended Wagon up to 10,000 lb each. An available Class II/III/IV Trailer Tow Package includes an electric brake controller with tap-in capability, a seven-pin trailer wiring harness with bumper bracket, and a relay system for backup and running lights.

A power take-off provision is optional on 6.8L cutaways and strip chassis with 158" and 176" wheelbases. It provides a removable access panel to give the PTO access to the transmission.

E-Series vans come in E-150 regular-length and E-250 and E-350 regular- and extended- length with maximum payload ratings from 3170 to 4090 lb. All E-Series vans, including the E-150, are rated as heavy-duty trucks with gross vehicle weights of over 8500 lb. The E-150 made the move to the HD class last year and increased the maximum payload by 70%.

E-Series passenger wagons come in E-150 regular- and E-350 regular- and extended-length models offering seating options for seven, eight, 12, or 15 passengers, plus a new 11-passenger optional seating configuration for the extended-length XL and XLT. Payloads range from 2525 to 2,995 lb.

E-Series cutaways are available in E-250, E-350, and E-450 Super Duty and E-350 and E-450 stripped chassis with 138", 158" and 176" wheelbases and three axle ratios (3.73, 4.10, 4.56) in both single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel configurations. GVWRs range from 8600 to 14,500 lb for cutaways and 9000 to 14,500 lb for stripped chassis.

F-650/750 changes

Brian Pennington, chief engineer for F-650/750 and LCF trucks, said a new 14,000-lb front axle will be offered on the F-750, new rear axles on the F-650 Pro Loader, and new Stemco Discover wheel seals are standard on all models. New, larger Hankook 11R22.5H tires are now standard on all models except the F-650 Pro Loader.

Front frame extensions were available for order starting in October, along with a temporary mount for the battery box.

He said there are two locations for the aftertreatment systems: under the cab, right side below the passenger door; and back of cab, right side.

The standard 45-gallon fuel tank location is on the left side under the cab. All vehicles must be equipped with a left-side tank. Dual right-hand and left-hand tanks are available but require a left-hand tank for fuel-system draw and return.

The exhaust system can be modified to the rear of the diesel particulate filter (DPF), but no modifications to the exhaust system are allowed ahead of the DPF.

Any modifications to the exhaust system cannot affect exhaust backpressure, nor can the diffuser at the end of the exhaust be removed.

He advised trying to use the left side PTO opening when installing power take-offs because the exhaust system on the right side does not provide much room.

On the 2008 LCF, the following program content changes were made to meet 2007 emissions requirements: modified 4.5L V-6 diesel engine (closed crankcase breather system, turbocharger modifications, high-efficiency EGR cooler); new aftertreatment exhaust systems with catalyst and particulate filters; larger cooling modules to accommodate increased heat rejection.

The 113" wheelbase increased to 115" to make room for the longer exhaust package.