Weight savings was a key priority for designers and engineers of the 2015 Ford F-150, which debuted at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but they also knew it was not the only priority.
Ford engineers knew another key to making the 2015 Ford F-150 a success would literally rest on the capability and design of the frame. Above all else, they told us, Ford engineers reconfigured and redesigned the frame for strength as well as weight savings.
As the foundation of the entire pickup, Ford engineers looked at the frame and started with an entirely clean sheet of paper. This meant they could use massive amounts of computer power to determine the exact amount of high-strength steel (at exactly what thickness with exactly how much reinforcement) necessary for the perfect foundation for the proper towing and payload capacities, as well as the most solid mounting points for the newly upgraded suspension pieces.
The frame is still a fully boxed, ladder-constructed foundation with eight cross-members, but it is now wider through the front and midsection, with an overall taller section depth as well. Frame sections are no longer bent but molded and rolled to keep the tolerances and wall thicknesses (and tensile strengths) as strong and light as possible. They've even cut windows in certain parts of the frame to save weight where it was determined doing so would not affect strength. The new frame is more than 70 percent high-strength steel, and we were continually told that nothing on this new truck was overlooked, not even the stout and much-beloved rear axles.
Underneath, both the 8.8-inch and 9.75-inch rear axles (dependent on powertrain and towing capacity limits) have been shaved and modified to save a small amount of weight — although they are essentially identical to the previous solid axle design. However, Ford decided to stagger the rear shocks (one pointed forward on the passenger side, the other pointed to the rear on the driver's side) to better minimize the effects of axle hop, especially when the pickup is equipped with a more powerful motor.
The rear suspension of the 2015 F-150 continues to use multileaf steel springs, but they have been shortened about 6 inches and retuned to help improve ride quality. Nothing that we've seen so far indicates that Ford will offer a special suspension package that competes with Ram — with either coils springs or an uplevel air suspension. The front suspension is identical to the previous model but does offer a slightly wider track width by almost 1 inch. Expect wheel and tire combinations to run the full spectrum with just as many standard and optional offerings as the current model lineup. More details to come.