Joe Hinrichs of Ford introduces the Atlas Concept truck at the North American International Auto Show on January 15, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty Images
James R. Healey and Fred Meier, USA TODAY
DETROIT -- Despite repeated denials for more than a month, Ford unveiled a concept version of the 2015 F-150 pickup truck at the North American International Auto Show here today.
The elaborate staging and unveiling at Joe Louis Arena included a live band rather than canned music that most events have. Ford lowered the truck from the ceiling.
The show was intended to take the spotlight off new full-size pickups introduced here by rival General Motors.
The GM trucks, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, go on sale this quarter. The Ford trucks won't be at dealers until next year.
Ford called the show truck the Atlas concept. It resembles the current truck, but the front end and hood are dramatically different -- beefier.
The Atlas concept is fitted with a number of aerodynamic features that are probably harbingers of what will be on the production truck, including a front spoiler that adjusts its height according to the truck's speed.
The buzz has been that Ford would use aluminum and other lightweight materials extensively in the new F-150 saving as much as 700 pounds, but Ford didn't mention that during the presentation.
Jessica Caldwell, industry analyst at Edmunds.com, pointed out that Ford avoided any mention of aluminum construction but hinted at a new EcoBoost engine. She said the reference to that engine indicates Ford will continue to use fuel economy as a selling point for the Atlas.
EcoBoost is Ford's name for smaller-displacement, turbocharged engines meant to take the place of larger, less fuel-efficient engines.