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Case Study: The Future of Pickup Trucks

Ford’s F-Series lineup of full-size pickup trucks, developed more than six decades ago, has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for 37 years and the best-selling vehicle of any kind for 32 years.

2015 F-150

Before the first 2015 F-150 rolls off the assembly line, it will have been subjected to thousands of hours and more than 10 million miles of combined real-world and simulated durability testing.

When it came time to update the F-150, one of Ford’s most important products, we faced a pivotal question: How do you improve on such a successful vehicle? Do you change it incrementally or take a leap forward? We chose the leap forward approach, reinventing the 2015 F-150 as the toughest, smartest and most capable F-150 yet. It’s all-new from the wheels up. We rethought everything from the materials used to the engines offered, because it was the right thing to do for our customers and helped to align the vehicle with our Blueprint for Sustainability.

The 2015 F-150 demonstrates how capability and efficiency do not have to be mutually exclusive. When designing the all-new F-150 to meet or exceed the toughness F-Series customers depend on, Ford invested in advanced materials that improve stiffness and durability while reducing weight to improve towing, payload and gas mileage.

Starting with the signature fully boxed frame, Ford engineers increased the use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel – from 23 percent to 77 percent of the frame. The new frame is up to 60 pounds lighter than the previous model. High-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys – already used in aerospace, commercial transportation, energy and many other rugged industries – are used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance, and also saving weight. Overall, up to 700 pounds of weight have been saved, helping the F-150 haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, all while contributing to efficiency.

  • 1948 First F-Series trucks built
  • 41 seconds A new F-series truck sold, on average, in 2013
  • 33+ million F-series trucks sold since 1948
  • 11 innovations Available for the first time in a light-duty pickup

Changes were made under the hood as well, with four engine options that include an all-new 2.7L EcoBoost® with standard Auto Start-Stop technology, delivering an important combination of power and efficiency. The 2015 F-150 also showcases a wide range of features, described below, in line with our approach to make vehicles that are green, safe, smart and of the highest quality. We have filed for more than 100 patents related to the all-new F-150.


Features of the all-new F-150 that build on the weight reduction to achieve better fuel economy include:

  • Four engine choices, including an all-new, even more efficient 2.7L EcoBoost engine that offers the same power as some mid-range V8s and includes extremely high output, lightweight design and standard Auto Start-Stop. Customers can also choose a 3.5L V6 engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing, downsized from a 3.7L engine because the truck’s lighter weight allowed us to use a smaller engine while maintaining the same power to weight ratio. Also available are the proven 3.5L EcoBoost and the 5.0L Ti-VCT V8.
  • Auto Start-Stop technology. Unlike start-stop solutions in other vehicles, this technology – specially tuned for truck customers – shuts off the engine to save fuel when the vehicle is stopped, except when towing or in four-wheel drive. The engine restarts in milliseconds when the brake is released.
  • Active Grille Shutters on models equipped with EcoBoost engines. Active Grille Shutters stay open when extra engine cooling is needed, such as during low-speed stop-and-go driving or while working in hot weather. They automatically close to reduce aerodynamic drag at cruising speed.

Safety and Driver Assist

In addition to a standard set of safety features, the F-150 features leading technologies that automatically assist drivers. They join available driver aids, including SYNC® with MyFord Touch®, hill start assist, MyKey®, rear view camera, reverse sensing and trailer brake controller to manage a trailer’s brakes.

  • Second-row inflatable safety belts, which work like a traditional belt but include a tubular airbag that inflates in the event of a crash and distributes the force of the impact across a wider area of the passenger’s chest;
  • Curve Control, which automatically provides more aggressive four-wheel braking when the truck is going into a corner too fast;
  • Adaptive cruise control, allowing drivers to set a cruising speed and use radar technology to monitor traffic ahead and maintain a safe distance between vehicles;
  • Lane-Keeping System, which is designed to help avert unintentional drifting of the vehicle outside the intended driving lane by automatically detecting the left- or right-hand road lane markings using a camera mounted between the windshield and interior rearview mirror; and
  • Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, which uses radar hidden in the taillamps to detect a vehicle entering a driver’s blind spot while driving or backing up.


From farms to construction sites, our customers want a truck that is a dependable partner, a mobile office and a go-anywhere workshop. The F-150 uses more technology than ever to stay connected and work efficiently, including:

  • New 8-inch LCD productivity screen in the instrument panel, which includes updated truck apps – from fuel economy to towing tips – and the ability to create a customized home screen for customers to access their most frequently used apps in one place.
  • Trailer hitch assist, a new rearview camera feature that adds a dynamic line based on steering wheel angle in the display to help customers line up truck and trailer without requiring a spotter or having to get out of the vehicle.
  • Smart trailer tow module, using an all-new smart trailer tow wiring harness that helps identify and inform the driver of potential trailer connectivity issues, burned or unlit trailer marker lamps, and brake light and trailer battery faults.
  • LED spotlights on sideview mirrors, which provide powerful, durable and bright lighting around the truck exterior.
  • LED lighting embedded in the walls of the cargo box, which brightly illuminates the box interior to help customers quickly find tools or other items.
  • Integrated loading ramps, which enable easy loading of ATVs, motorcycles and mowers.
  • BoxLink™, which is a combination of metal brackets and custom cleats used to secure a variety of accessories in the cargo box, from ramps to storage bins to bed dividers.
  • Remote tailgate, allowing for the tailgate to be locked, unlocked and released with the key fob – eliminating manual locking and increasing convenience and security. The tailgate also is damped, dropping down, hands-free, to a flat position when opened.
  • High-wattage power outlets (400 watts, 110 volts) in the cab, allowing drivers to easily charge corded tools, battery chargers or mobile devices on-site or while driving.
  • Next-generation tailgate step, which is now fully integrated inside the tailgate and virtually invisible when not in use.
  • Rear under-seat storage in F-150 Super and Crew cabs, providing hidden storage for valuables. Two storage bins also are located underneath the rear seats.
  • Boxside step, now available for the short 5.5-foot box.


Before the first 2015 F-150 rolls off the assembly line, it will have been subjected to thousands of hours and more than 10 million miles of combined real-world and simulated durability testing.

The new F-150 towed trailers over mountain passes in temperatures above 120 degrees, withstood frame-punishing terrain on an off-road course and conquered a frozen lake at minus 40 degrees. It endured high-humidity chambers, salt vats and riverbeds. The F-150 towed heavy loads up grueling, steep roads.

Robots slammed doors, seats and tailgates thousands of times over, and dropped heavy objects onto the bed of the truck. It persevered through twisting and shaking from multiple directions for days at a time. Some Ford tests are so extreme that a five-day period equals 10 years or 150,000 miles of abuse by the roughest customers.

To test the high-strength, aluminum alloy for corrosion, Ford developed a modified, more aggressive corrosion test using an acidified spray. After simulating 10 years of exposure, the aluminum material showed virtually no signs of degradation. Ford even developed an all-new paint process for aluminum, and will lay claim to the two highest-volume aluminum paint shops in the world.