By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Tuesday will launch a new luxury version of its F-150 pickup truck that could command prices above $60,000, answering growing demand from U.S. consumers for trucks that could substitute for a higher end German sedan.
The 2016 Ford F-150 Limited will go on sale later this year, and will be a step up from the automaker's current top-of-the-line pickup, the F-150 Platinum.
Low gasoline prices along with better fuel economy have boosted demand for feature-laden duty trucks and large SUVs which are helping the bottom lines for the three Detroit automakers.
One of the features that comes standard on the new F-150 Limited will be "multicontour massaging seats."
In June, half of the new F-150 pickup trucks sold by Ford were of its three existing premium models - Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. The lowest-priced Lariat is more than $40,000 including destination charges, and depending on the options taken, a F-150 Platinum can top $60,000.
Ford has said its North American operating profit margin for this year will be as much as 9.5 percent, largely linked to the profits from its F-Series pickup trucks, the best-selling model in the United States since 1982.
The average price U.S. consumers paid for fullsize pickup trucks in the first half of this year was $42,429, nearly $10,000, or 30 percent, higher than in the first half of 2009, according to auto industry sales website and consultant TrueCar Inc (TRUE.O).
TrueCar found that the average price customers paid for F-150 trucks in the first half of the year was $46,573, up 8 percent from a year earlier, compared with $38,384 for the General Motors Co (GM.N) Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, down 2 percent from a year earlier.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCAU.N) (FCHA.MI) Ram pickup trucks sold at an average $42,256, up 6 percent from a year earlier.
The 2016 F-150 Limited will have a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon in city driving, and 24 mpg on the highway.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bernard Orr)