How Ford Engineers Made the All-New F-150 the Toughest-Looking, Most Aerodynamically Efficient F-150 Ever
Distinctive Built Ford Tough style of the all-new F-150 pushes boundaries of bold design while increasing aerodynamic efficiency over the previous model
F-150 evolves hallmark design cues from first F-Series trucks
Restyled badge echoes design elements throughout
Designers of the 2015 Ford F-150 had a challenging goal to meet when they set out to reimagine the world’s best-selling pickup: Create an aerodynamic, efficient design that did not compromise the tough, bold looks that define Ford trucks.
The team succeeded.
The new F-150’s structured look features squared-off edges, shapes and surfaces that convey confidence, capability and work readiness. Yet these elements also work together to allow F-150 to slip through the air more efficiently.
“The truck’s sharp, boxy shape gives it a tough appearance, but actually the key to the design is aerodynamic efficiency – getting the most out of the shape,” said Brad Richards, Ford F-150 exterior design manager. “We made F-150 look tough and capable, while also reducing wind resistance.”
Aerodynamic testing ensures a happy medium
Richards and team accomplished the feat of balancing strength and efficiency by incorporating sharp edges into the overall design. The strategically designed edges convey toughness, but also enable airflow to hug the surfaces at the front portion of the truck. Rear corners are designed to allow the air to cleanly detach from the vehicle to reduce turbulence and swirling air that can cause drag and reduce efficiency. The improved aerodynamics help increase efficiency by reducing the work performed by the engine to overcome aerodynamic drag.
The grille is vertical, yet its outer portions are angled back and lead to the headlamps and bumper corners that are also swept back to smoothly direct airflow down the sides, reducing drag. The beveled leading edge of the hood helps promote smooth airflow to the windshield and roof.
As the design of the all-new F-150 evolved with clay models, wind tunnel testing enabled designers to see where they could gain greater aerodynamic efficiencies:
- Flush-mounted windshield eliminates need for molding that would disrupt smooth airflow
- Tailgate top is designed to act as a spoiler, giving air that flows off the roof a place to land before smoothly trailing off, reducing turbulence behind the truck
- Cargo box is narrower than the cab, with no reduction in box volume, which enhances airflow, while a trim piece prevents air from getting trapped between cab and box
- Rear corners including taillamps are precisely angled so air breaks off cleanly, reducing turbulence behind the truck
- The duct under the headlamp channels air through to the wheel housing and reduces the wake generated from the wheel.
“Testing in the wind tunnel helped us fine-tune a happy medium between styling, aerodynamics, engineering and cost,” said Richards. “We learned where we could push shape and design to reduce drag, and where to stop when we weren’t gaining anything.”
Toughness is in the details
“The shapes, lines, angles and motifs are much stronger on the all-new F-150, and the chiseled edges convey toughness,” said Richards. “The hallmark beltline along the outside mirrors is the strongest piece of Built Ford Tough DNA. That’s inspired by heavy equipment such as cranes and bulldozers. It looks good, but it also improves driver visibility.”
The dropped beltline styling element can be seen in the outline of the headlamps and taillamps, while bevels, angles and notches are incorporated into the hood, windshield and tailgate, as well as throughout the interior, including the sew patterns on the seats.
F-150 also retains heritage design cues, such as the familiar headlamp shape that evokes the grille surround of the 1948 Ford F-1 and wraparound steel front bumper.
New badge signifies efficiency, leadership
Design details of the truck carry over to the new badge design, in which the characters are shaped with bevels to mimic those found in the body design.
The signature “F” has been opened up to signify a lighter, more efficient truck, yet it’s also larger to emphasize F-Series truck leadership.
The new badge design, using a font called Bold Leadership, will eventually find its way onto all F-Series trucks – right on through to the medium-duty Ford F-750.
“F-Series is all about bold and tough,” said Marco Querciagrossa, who leads badge design for Ford vehicles. “We created a badge that confidently conveys that.”