RALEIGH - It isn’t often you can test-drive a new vehicle, do some good for your community and have fun at the same time. But that’s exactly what drivers who participated in Ford F-150 EcoBoost Challenge had an opportunity to do last week.
Carlee Mallard, 25, of Raleigh, North Carolina, emerged victorious as the winner of the challenge, which tasked drivers in eight U.S. cities to drive an F-150 EcoBoost truck for one week to see who could achieve the best fuel economy, earn the most votes on Facebook and gather the most volunteers to help execute a goodwill project in their community.
As the winner, Mallard will receive a year’s supply of free Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline. In addition, two Shell-branded gas stations in her hometown of Raleigh will offer residents free regular-grade gasoline for two hours and 22 minutes (for the 22 mpg the F-150 EcoBoost achieves on the highway) on Sept. 9.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Mallard. “I work for a travel company and I do a lot of traveling so the free gas will definitely help offset some of that cost.”
But Mallard is not the only winner. People in all eight cities benefited from the challenge.
For example, Josh Mishell, the Denver participant in the competition, held a food drive in his community to benefit a local hunger relief organization. David Cynkin, the San Diego contestant, rounded up over 54 volunteers to help build a garden for a local community center. And Jason Falls, the driver from Louisville banded with his volunteers to help clean up a local park in Louisville. All used the F-150 EcoBoost truck to achieve their goals.
“We wanted to give consumers an opportunity that they wouldn’t normally have behind the wheel of the F-150 EcoBoost and a chance to do something good for their communities at the same time,” said Marc Lapine, F-150 Marketing manager.
Mallard had originally planned to help rebuild damage from the April tornado in Raleigh for her community service project, but that event was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.
“I was really passionate about conducting that project because I was in the tornado. I saw the damage, and there is still a lot of need for cleanup there,” she said. “But there were some families in Raleigh who lost power during the hurricane, so we paired up with the YWCA to donate water and nonperishable goods.”
For the gas mileage part of the challenge, Mallard led the pack averaging an astounding 28.3 mpg throughout the week with the F-150 EcoBoost, which is EPA-certified at 22 mpg on the highway. She says she did a lot of research beforehand on how to drive more fuel efficiently.
“I never used the air conditioning,” she said. “I drove mostly on the highway at speeds between 50 and 55 mpg because I wanted to avoid stoplights and stop signs. And I tried to keep a steady pace.”
Craig Daitch, Ford Social Media manager, helped organize the competition. He says he was impressed but not totally surprised by the exceptional mileage that Mallard achieved.
“We wanted to put people behind the wheel of the F-150 EcoBoost as a means of conveying surprise and delight not just in the way that the vehicle drove but also in how fuel efficient the vehicle could be especially with a light foot on the gas pedal,” he said.
Lapine says fuel economy has become a growing concern for truck buyers especially since gas prices started to spike a couple of years ago.
“Prior to 2008, durability, reliability, and capability were always at the top of their list, and they still are. But now truck buyers are asking for all of that and better fuel economy,” he said. “Not only does the F-150 EcoBoost provide great fuel economy, but it also gives consumers the capability and power that they want in a truck as well.”
Consumer demand for the F-150 EcoBoost is on the rise. Over 41 percent of customers who buy the F-150 are choosing models equipped with the EcoBoost engine. Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 – which manufactures the EcoBoost engine – has added shifts to keep up with demand.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said Lapine. “We’re doing everything we can to match our production capacity with demand.”