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 All-New 2015 F-150 Durability Forum Reveals Little-Known Facts about New Truck Testing

DATE: Will be calculated from "Release Start Date" field.

DEARBORN  ​Ford recently held an F-150 "We Test" forum at the Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn where members of the truck team educated media about the durability, quality and reliability testing Ford conducted to ensure that the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 earned its “Built Ford Tough” badge. 

Did you know that in order to perform early testing on the new F-150, Ford built two rounds of prototypes before the program even started?  The 11 vehicles in total were aluminum bodies on 2009 F-150 chassis. 

“Our customers put their F-150 trucks through the most demanding of situations, so before we even think about labeling a new F-150 as ‘Built Ford Tough,’ we literally have hundreds of engineers, drivers, testers and technicians who work to break the F-150 to make it stronger,” said Raj Nair, global vice president, Product Development. 

The first four prototypes were dubbed “X-0s,” according to Pete Friedman, Manager, Manufacturing Research. 

“We ran the X-0s through a battery of tests in 2009, which gave us the ‘proof of concept’ and confidence that we could deliver an F-150 as tough or tougher than the outgoing model,” he explained.  “The lessons learned from those four vehicles were used to make seven additional prototypes – called X1s – more weight-efficient and even more capable.”

The X-1s were each used for different types of testing.  One of them, however, stood apart from the rest. 

“The 11th X-1 prototype went through the same durability tests as the 2009 F-150, the equivalent of 150,000 miles of 10 years of extreme hard use by our most demanding customers,” said Nair.  “And it passed these tests with its aluminum alloy body.”

The prototype was evaluated.  It came through the testing relatively unscathed, so the team decided to do something that had never been done before.

“We pushed that truck even harder by adding another 50 percent – an extra round of 75,000 miles of durability testing – and again it passed and exceeded our own expectations,” said Nair. 

Pete Reyes, chief engineer for the 2015 F-150, said they pushed the prototype to go the extra distance out of “general engineering interest.”

“It went through the first testing so clean that we said this one probably has an entire additional durability cycle in it,” he said.  “And we were just surprised that when you take the weight out and you put the trucks through these really punishing surfaces the vehicle just glides over it instead of pounding through it.”

Reyes said it was a defining moment for the team.

“It highlighted to us that light-weighting with high-strength aluminum alloys on a high-strength steel frame not only works but it’s better than the outgoing steel on steel,” he said.  “I think it was the inflection point where said instead of being equivalent to the outgoing truck we can now make it better, tougher and more capable.  We don’t have to be the same but lighter.  We’re going to be lighter and better.”​ 

  

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4/22/2014 7:55 AM