Earlier today, Jackie DiMarco, Ford’s chief engineer on the F-150 decided to give users of the massive web forum Reddit a chance to ask her questions. At the end, DiMarco said she had “a ton of fun,” but the same could not be said for many of the Reddit users who submitted questions.
On Reddit, these types of opportunities are called AMAs, short for “Ask Me Anything.” Reddit user Broshank said after reading through DiMarco’s answers, “This entire AMA feels like a commercial.” The feeling was shared by many other users.
Ford later posted a response to that sentiment saying, “Was this a commercial for F-150s? No. It’s been selling quite well for a long time. We chose Reddit because we sincerely thought the community would find it appealing to talk to a Chief Engineer. Many who asked about Jackie’s career path and background seemed to appreciate her answers.”
Soon after the Q&A sessions started, scores of Reddit users began asking DiMarco about the possibility of Ford deciding to again offer a smaller pickup and maybe one with a diesel option. Many voiced their desire for Ford to bring the Ranger back, which was discontinued in 2011. Others wanted a diesel package for the F-150.
Due to the sheer number of questions, the vast majority of them went unanswered. DiMarco kept most responses short and to the point. However, those answers that did go into detail, many of them regarding Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology, were accused by Reddit users as being “copy and pasted” from Ford marketing materials.
To that accusation, the Ford team responded that DiMarco wrote all of her own answers and the tone of her answers was likely misinterpreted saying “perhaps that’s the result of doing a lot of interviews, but her answers weren’t canned or scripted.”
Reddit user hardigree’s question and DiMarco’s response is a perfect example of the type of exchange that went on.
“Ford touts the economy of the new F-150 with the EcoBoost V6 as V8 power with V6 fuel economy, but the new Silverado/Sierra V8 offers V8 power with better fuel economy than the EcoBoost V6,” hardigree wrote. “Were you surprised GM was able to best you that way? How are you going to respond?”
DiMarco responded, “EcoBoost provides the best in class combination of power, capability, and fuel economy. Plus up to 90% of the EcoBoost engine’s peak torque is available from 1700 RPM to 5000 RPM. A typical V8 reaches peak torque at higher engine speeds and holds it for much smaller range.”
The Ford team followed up on diesel as well writing, “…Based on our research and knowledge of customers’ needs, an F-150 with EcoBoost engine is the best solution for them from a performance, capability, and cost standpoint. This may come across as a marketing push for EcoBoost, and we’re sorry if that’s the case, but that’s our alternative to diesel that we believe delivers on customers’ needs.”
And as many other Reddit users began to point out the huge number of comments asking about diesel or requesting smaller pickups from Ford, DiMarco addressed why Ford discontinued the Ranger and currently has no plans to reenter the small truck market.
“We’re investing in F-Series because the small truck segment has steadily shrunk from almost 8 percent of total industry sales in 1994 to 1.9 percent of industry sales in 2012, plus F-150 3.7-liter V6 gets better fuel economy than today’s midsize V6 trucks.”
Unhappy with that answer, Reddit user gsuhooligan replied, “Have y’all asked why the market share declined? Perhaps it is because that segment was grossly neglected. There were very little technological differences between a 1993 Ranger and a 2011 Ranger.”
“It is funny that you think there is no demand for this when the #1 comment here, and on your Ford Social page is in regards to a small, diesel 4×4 truck. I am a devout Ford person, but I can’t fit a super crew F-150 in my garage, which is why I have a Sport Trac. When it is time to replace that, I don’t have any choices if I want to remain brand-loyal.”
DiMarco did respond to several of the more lighthearted questions. Reddit user wakuku got right down to business asking, “When can we expect a TRULY revolutionize vehicle? When can we start buying levitating Fords?”
“I have seen a Raptor go airborne,” DiMarco answered.
Another funny exchange came from a Reddit user who is 6 feet, 8 inches tall who wanted to know why the seat in his F-150 won’t go back farther. “We design our cars to be comfortable for everyone from a 5th percentile female to a 95th percentile male,” DiMarco responded. “Unfortunately, you’re above the 95th… I wish I had a better answer for you.”
Another user asked what DiMarco’s first car was (it was a 1976 Buick LeSabre nicknamed the Banana Boat) while others were curious what she drives on a daily basis. “I’ve only owned Fords. I’ve owned several F-150s in the past, but the nice thing about my job is I can take one home whenever I want. Right now I’m driving a new 2013 Fusion Titanium,” she wrote.