Ford's plans to gradually electrify its bestselling F-150 pickup truck are no secret; the Blue Oval itself acknowledges that a hybrid F-Series will pave the way for an electric model at a later date. Though rumored to hit the market for the 2021 model year, details of the former's powertrain remained a total mystery until Wednesday, when a document published online shed some light on what could propel the hybrid half-ton at its supposed launch later this year.
A user of F-Series fan site NewF150Forum.com posted what they claim to be a VIN decoder for the 2021 F-150, which astute readers may note features two 3.5-liter powertrain options. One, a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 with 375 horsepower, corresponds with the largest available twin-turbo EcoBoost available in the current (non-Raptor) F-150. The other, which lacks a horsepower estimate, is listed as a "3.5L HEV" V6 whose fuel is specified as "electric."
VIN decoders and other similar documents submitted to governmental agencies have sometimes shown automakers' hands years in advance. Toyota's plans for a four-cylinder Supra, for example, leaked almost a year before its official confirmation.
Yet for multiple reasons, it's worth taking this purported Ford VIN decoder with a grain of salt. It features neither Ford nor NHTSA letterhead and was posted on pranksters' favorite day of the year, April 1, by an account with next to no post history. To try to verify the facts independently, we plugged multiple sample VINs into the NHTSA's decoder database and found that while data is already available for many 2021 F-150 VINs, two powertrain options returned no-result error codes. Both were for the supposed 3.5-liter engine options.
The Drive contacted Ford in the hopes of attaining clarification, though its spokespersons were unable to issue a statement, citing company policy against commenting on "speculation." The truth about the hybrid F-150, it seems, will remain fuzzy until Ford sees fit to clarify the matter itself.
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