Body of Work

The F-150’s tough, smart and capable design has made it the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the last 32 years. To expand F-150 leadership, we've raised the bar again.

Pickup truck drivers want results. Whether they’re at the job site, on the ranch or in the office, they know there’s a big difference between looking good on paper and delivering on game day. F-150 drivers make it a point to deliver for the teams and families that depend on them. To F-150 drivers, horsepower and technology only matter if they deliver capability — like bigger payloads, faster acceleration, greater towing capacity and better handling. That’s why we made the 2015 F-150 with an all-new high-strength steel frame and a high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy body. The combination increases strength and durability while also reducing vehicle weight by up to 700 pounds. And a lighter and stronger truck is a more capable truck.


“Our objective was to find materials that allowed us to design the truck to be as tough—or tougher—than the current model, yet could help it be hundreds of pounds lighter for better capability and fuel economy.”

No one has ever created a high-volume vehicle with a high-strength aluminum alloy body before, let alone the best-selling vehicle in the United States. So to build the first mass-produced aluminum truck, we had to do a lot of other things first as well. Ford engineers perfected the heat treating and hydroforming techniques necessary to create an aluminum body. “We had a lot of confidence in our manufacturing capabilities from the start,” says Pete Friedman, manager in Ford’s Manufacturing Research Department. “Compared to steel, aluminum alloy can be thicker for improved strength and still save weight.” With the added metal, the truck is able to deliver the increased strength and durability that drivers expect in an F-150.

But our engineers’ work didn’t stop with the body, and indeed the process of joining an aluminum alloy body to a high-strength steel frame presented a new set of challenges. With more experimentation, Ford invented proprietary weld techniques and advanced adhesives to create joints that are stronger than ever. Underneath it all, the new ladder frame is tougher and lighter thanks to its fully boxed design and variable-thickness, high-strength rolled steel.


At work and on the weekend, F-150 drivers need a pickup box that can support thousands of pounds of cargo as much as they need a seat that can provide thousands of miles of comfort. They need a dent-resistant body as well as a firm dashboard for writing receipts. They’re towing thousands of pounds on a Friday and taking their friends and family to dinner on Saturday. In a truck without compromises, ergonomics are a critical part of the truck’s ability to deliver practicality and comfort to drivers, coworkers and family members.

F-150 program management analyst Alana Strager explains that one of the challenges of innovating is providing something that the customer has always wanted but never asked for. Drawing inspiration from the standardized trailer hitch and the instantly recognizable shape of a boat cleat, she and her team created BoxLinkTM, an ergonomic, simple and customizable set of anchors for securing cargo in the truck bed. “The box is a design that’s been around since horse-drawn carts in 3200 B.C.,” says Strager. She and her team recognized that the design has persisted because it works.

So instead of redesigning the box, Strager’s team designed BoxLink so that drivers have the flexibility to customize how they manage or secure the cargo they already carry. “No one’s asked for it because no one has offered it,” says Strager. “Offering it first is innovating.” The system’s potential applications are as varied as the needs of F-150 drivers and the innovative ways that they can put BoxLink to work.


In addition to the box, the F-series has always been designed with a serious focus on the part of the truck that drivers use most: the cab. Now the 2015 F-150 has taken that driver-centric focus to a new level with its emphasis on customer feedback. “People can’t tell us why something works, but they can always tell us why something doesn’t work, like big, awkward spokes on a steering wheel,” says Cary Diehl, a program ergonomic engineer at Ford. “So the things that we knew worked well in the past, we kept. Other things that would help make us leaders in the truck category, we added.”

As a result, knobs and controls are designed to be operated even while drivers are wearing work gloves, and the 8-inch productivity screen has benefitted from extensive user testing. Using new materials technologies, our ergonomics team was able to move the armrest to a more comfortable location while maintaining crash safety standards.


“It has to be useful technology. We don’t want to just throw in technology for the sake of throwing it in… We think about ways of making the technology that we have better.”

With its dedicated truck platform, the original 1948 F-series was a serious departure from the pickups that Ford had been building on Model T and Model A platforms. Drivers needed a more capable and comfortable vehicle, and over half a century later, that hasn’t changed. We’ve advanced our technology, but our focus on our customers is the same. We’re still building the toughest, smartest, most capable trucks possible, because that’s exactly what our customers need.