DETROIT - The worldwide debut of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) features a Detroit-exclusive Future of Tough assembly line exhibit that offers visitors an actual look at how the iconic truck will be built at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant.
The huge 22-foot high and 108-feet wide display is a section of a real F-150 assembly line. It features four truck bodies representing different phases of the assembly process. Two elevator stations bring the four vehicle properties to show floor level for public viewing.
“The cells are configured the same way they will be when they leave Detroit and go to Kansas City Assembly,” said David Tillapaugh, Global Auto Show Operations manager. “They’re joined up in the same fashion. They use the same devices to move the product. The sleds that the parts sit on, the electrical system, the elevators and conveyors are authentic.”
The Future of Tough story of the new F-150 is told through the pillars of durability, capability, efficiency and smart at either end of the assembly line, which include information and interactive displays inside working “bays.”
Tillapaugh said the Ford auto show team thought very carefully about how to bring the new F-150 to life on the Ford stand in a way that was impactful and authentic enough to do justice to the product.
“We wanted people to understand how core this vehicle is to Ford,” he said. “This represents the future and the fact that our manufacturing systems continue to get better, more efficient, and more technologically advanced all the time.”
Tillapaugh says the exhibit is designed to demonstrate the benefits that Ford is able to provide for its truck customers.
“The fact that we can control the precision, the movement, the assembly operation and then at the end the fit and finish of the truck is a huge story for people, and I think people value that,” he said.
“With anything new, many customers have a little bit of anxiety about whether it’s going to be good enough or as good as the product it’s replacing. I think that when people see this and understand the precision with which the machinery operates and moves the modules from place to place and how carefully it’s managed people will have an enormous level of confidence in the new truck.”
Also included in the assembly line display is a sign that visitors can autograph that will eventually be housed at the Kansas City Assembly Plant where the new F-150 will be built.
“We’re offering visitors a chance to sign part of the architecture and be memorialized. So you have the opportunity to join us in this whole new chapter of our manufacturing journey,” said Tillapaugh. “The sign will be used as a marker to symbolize that we’re all in this together.”
Visitors will also be able to remember their experience with a commemorative F-150 ball cap that is available for a $20 donation to veterans’ causes.
“The veteran affiliation seems natural with our truck buyers. Even if they aren’t veterans themselves they sympathize with and understand the sacrifice that veterans make,” said Tillapaugh. “We thought this was a nice way for us to give back.”
One of the greatest challenges involved in creating the elaborate and brightly colored assembly line display at NAIAS, said Tillapaugh, was keeping its very existence a secret – especially since the team began building it back in October of last year.
“We’ve never done a build here in Detroit where we had to curtain things off and create black draping and real privacy. But we did this year,” he said. “You had to have special clearance to enter this whole area of the exhibition hall. And later on when we moved the modules, which are the partial trucks, into the display area we had to have special security handle it so that everything was covered and obscured.”
Once the Detroit auto show is over, the assembly line will be on its way to Kansas City.
“We can’t do this again at any of our other auto shows this year because our manufacturing partners need it back,” said Tillapaugh.