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
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
“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
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
“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
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.”