- Six Ford prototype pickups have been in testing since 2011
- Aluminum cargo boxes fit to current-generation F-150
- Applications for service in mining, construction and utility work
The completely redesigned 2015 Ford F-150 won't be available until later this year, but components of the aluminum-bodied truck have already undergone extensive real-world testing. For example, Ford recently revealed that the new truck's aluminum cargo box was fitted to six prototype trucks delivered to commercial-fleet customers in 2011. Customers used the pickups just as they would use other work trucks, and Ford evaluated the durability of this new cargo box over time.
Customers included Barrick Gold Corporation in Elko, Nev., where surveyors used the pickups in mining operations; Walsh Construction, builders of a hydroelectric dam in Lancaster, Pa., and a highway interchange in Birmingham, Ala.; and a North Carolina regional electric utility company that provided one prototype truck to a line crew and one to a meter-reading crew.
None of the customers were told that the boxes were different from the standard steel bed that Ford uses on the current generation's F-150. But users did notice one difference: no rust.
"[Customers] told us they noticed the boxes did not produce red surface rust when heavy use scratched through the paint," said Denis Kansier, F-150 prototype lead engineer.
Ford also altered the final design of the truck box based on results from the secret testing. A meter-reading crew that tested one of the prototypes removed the tailgate from their prototype truck to improve visibility. Ford subsequently made modifications for better sight lines in the new 2015 F-150. Ford also uses heavier aluminum in the floor of the production model for increased strength.
Since delivery in 2011, the six trucks have racked up a combined total of 350,000 miles. Ford reports that all six are still in service. The automaker says these F-150 pickup trucks are the earliest prototypes it has provided for customer testing. Rigorous testing like this is important to prove the reliability and durability of redesigned models, especially one such as the 2015 Ford F-150 that relies on new technology like aluminum-intensive construction.
What it means to you: With Ford's new aluminum construction passing rigorous testing in mining, construction and utility work, you can be sure that the new 2015 Ford F-150 can survive anything your daily commute and trips to the home improvement store can throw at it.