"Fuel economy is the No. 1 unmet need" for owners of full-sized pickups, said Scott, Ford Motor Co. truck group marketing manager, at a media event last week.
Citing Ford research, he said 70 percent want better fuel economy and about a third of those say they would change brands for a "significant improvement" in mpg.
Ford is replacing the F-150's entire engine lineup for the 2011 model year. A V-6 will be standard. Also available: two V-8s and an EcoBoost V-6 with turbocharging and direction injection.
Ford says the new lineup will be 20 percent more fuel efficient than the current lineup of three V-8s. Currently, the standard engine is a 4.6-liter V-8 that gets 19 mpg on the highway.
Ford has not released EPA mileage figures for the new engine lineup.
Fuel economy is more important to buyers now than it was before the 2008 price spike, Scott said. And Ford still believes gasoline will jump to $4 to $4.50 a gallon in 2013 or 2014, he said.
Gasoline peaked at a national average of $4.05 a gallon in July 2008. Last week, it was $2.74.
Dealers can order 2011 models in October. Sales of vehicles with three of the four engines begin in December. The EcoBoost engine will be available in the first quarter of 2011.
THE F-150'S NEW ENGINE LINEUP
• 3.7-liter V-6, standard
• 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6
• 5.0-liter V-8
• 6.2-liter V-8
Source: Ford Motor Co.