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Ford is planning to introduce its next-generation F-150 pickup (2015 edition) with gas mileage that improves by 15 to 20 percent, hiking its mileage by 3 mpg.

Reuters reports that the move "shifts the battleground in full-size trucks from power, durability and towing capacity to fuel economy."

And nobody should be surprised by that, given the EPA mandates on corporate average fuel economy. Playing the cards the government has dealt, Ford is pursuing a different strategy from crosstown rival General Motors Co, which unveiled its redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, while promoting such virtues as more power and torque, a quieter cab and additional safety features.

Ford instead is hiking its average truck fuel economy by up to 3 miles per gallon when it implements a $2 billion redesign of its full-size F-series in fall 2014, according to unnamed sources familiar with the company's plans.

The 2015 Ford F-150 "will be a game-changer that will alter the dynamics of the truck segment," the source said. "They're shooting for best-in-class fuel economy."

Reuters reports that the overhaul of Ford's big pickup and the focus on improving its mileage are important for several reasons -- to help maintain the F-series' dominant position in the truck segment, to help maintain a key source of the company's profits and to help meet more stringent federal fuel-economy standards that take effect in 2015 and 2016.

The F-series, which has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 30 years, and sport-utility derivatives such as the Expedition account for more than 90 percent of Ford's global profit, according to Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas.

Ford aims to achieve its aggressive truck fuel-economy target by shaving an average of 700-750 pounds from each vehicle, largely through the extensive use of aluminum for doors, fenders, cab and tailgate, said two industry sources familiar with the F-series redesign program.

As part of the truck overhaul, known internally as the P552 program, Ford is redesigning most major chassis components such as brakes and axles to further reduce weight.

The company also is developing a new family of highly efficient engines under the internal program code Nano, the sources said. The small-displacement V6 engines will employ Ford's EcoBoost technology, including turbocharging and direct injection.

Will the lighter F-150 deliver what loyal Ford buyers have grown to expect? We'll see.

Is Ford placing too much attention on fuel economy for the F-150?
Let us know.