2015 Ford F-150: Engineers Create a New Frame

2015 F-150 Reyes II

When Pete Reyes, chief engineer for the 2015 Ford F-150, talks about the all-new pickup truck he can't help but smile. That's because he knows what kind of punishment this new truck has endured and how long his team has been working on it.

From the outset of the project, which started the day after the 2009 models were shipped to dealerships, Reyes said, Ford knew this truck was going to have to be something special in order to meet changing buyer needs as well as governmental regulations.

"We knew this would have to be special in order to meet all the targets we wanted to hit. We could have played it safe but we decided to go for it, starting with the frame and working through the entire truck," Reyes said. "Where we've done multimillion-mile testing on F-150 in the past, we knew we'd have to go way beyond that, into Super Duty territory, to prove this new truck was tough."

Ford engineers said they put the new F-150s through thousands of hours and 10 million lab miles of testing to make sure they would be tough enough to survive their likely punishment. Ford also wanted to provide some solace for skeptics who would want to believe that moving to a new alloy material for body panels and bed structure would make the truck weak and vulnerable. "That's just not the case," Reyes said.

During a recent media event in Dearborn, Mich., we found out that Ford has looked at every detail of this new truck. Engineers tried to make the designing and engineering of the parts better and the assembly simpler. They also tried to make the pickup more durable than the one it's replacing. From badging to fasteners to abrasion testing, we saw what Ford did and got a chance to talk to the engineers in charge of those systems. We have to admit that sometimes the level of detail they're working with seems insanely inconsequential, but in talking to the people behind these projects we discovered they are most certainly passionate.

 

IMG_8005a new II

 

Our favorite deep-dive station focused on the new fully boxed frame. Although the changes are difficult to see at first glance, they are significant and impressive. We're told they will pay huge dividends once we see the results play out from behind the wheel.

To begin, Ford engineers used much more high-strength, cold-rolled steel in the frame, precisely pinpointing how thick the frame needs to be at any given section or bend point.

Current-gen F-150s use 23 percent high-strength, 70,000-pounds-per-square-inch steel, while the 2015 model will use almost 80 percent (more similar to three-quarter- and one-ton frame construction than most light-duty pickups). Also, by using supercomputer software to calculate the exact thicknesses and strengths needed, Ford engineers were able to eliminate about 60 pounds from the frame construction alone.

 

2015 F-150 frame 2 II

 

Much of that frame-weight savings is a result of using many different gauge thicknesses all over the frame. The new frame has essentially the same overall shape, with a slightly deeper center section (it was 9 inches tall and is now 10 inches), but the rear and front sections of the frame (both of which are very important because they support the payload bed and powertrains, respectively) are where some more drastic changes occurred.

The rear section of the fully boxed frame is slightly widened and lowered, looking like a 5-inch-square tube foundation, in order to provide a stronger platform for towing. Eight cross-members (one more than the current pickup) use both aluminum and high-strength steel to be stronger and lighter.

The front section of the boxed frame has been modified and slightly widened to provide better support for the new engines and deliver better ride and handling. The newly tuned shocks and springs will help too. The front frame tubes have a corrugated design in the rails in order to allow for more strength and better crush support and energy dispersal. Finally, the "front horns" have been completely fine-tuned incorporating a 12-corner strategy that gives the tube ends more strength and a more predictable reaction in an accident.

The new backbone ladder frame is completely hydroformed and rolled with compression to newly designated thicknesses to make the structure lighter and stronger. As much as people are straining to understand how the body of the new pickup can be made out of aluminum and still be durable, the bigger news could be how well this new frame will improve the ride, capabilities and safety ratings. But we'll have to wait a little longer to report on those details. More to come.

To download the most up-to-date specs for the 2015 Ford F-150, click here.

To read the Ford press release regarding materials usage, click here

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams

NEW FRONT HORN                                                OLD FRONT HORN

2015 F-150 New-Old II

 

REDESIGNED LOWERED/WIDENED BOX FRAME UNDER BED

2015 F-150 rear frame II

 

NEW MULTI-THICKNESS CROSS-SECTION OF 2015 FRAME

IMG_8007a new II

 

OLD CROSS-SECTION AND CROSSMEMBER FROM 2014 FRAME

IMG_8009a old II

 

Comments

@ Lou BC

My what a childish rant you just made against the RAM.

I have a 2014 Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V-6 and the 8 speed transmission. I love it, it is very smooth. I am sure Ford will follow soon with an 8 or 9 speed transmission after all Ford is pretty good at following what RAM does a couple of years after RAM has already done it.

By the way Lou BC that ZF 8 speed you are bashing is also used in some of the finest luxury cars in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZF_8HP_transmission

The ZF 8HP is an eight-speed automatic transmission, designed and built by ZF Friedrichshafen AG's subsidiary in Saarbrücken.[1] It had its debut in the new BMW 7 Series 760Li saloon fitted with the V12 engine and since then each new BMW model in all Series down to the 1 Series in rear wheel drive and all wheel drive version was equipped with it.

One of its main aims is to improve vehicle fuel economy, and it can achieve an 11% saving compared to ZF-6 speed transmission and 14% versus modern 5-speed transmissions.[2][3] Due to changes in internal design, shift times have reduced to 200 milliseconds, along with the ability to shift in a non-sequential manner - going from 8th to 2nd in extreme situations.[4] In the 8HP70 version, it has a torque handling limit of 700 newton metres (516 lbf·ft), and weighs 90 kilograms (198 lb).[5]

Future development will see two four-wheel drive versions available, with version destined for Volkswagen Group applications, using a Torsen centre differential.[5] It will be able to encompass a torque range from 300 newton metres (221 lbf·ft) to 1,000 newton metres (738 lbf·ft), and will be available for use in middle class cars, through to large luxury sport utility vehicles.[5]

Chrysler Group LLC initially received the 8HP 8-speed automatic transmissions from the ZF Getriebe GmbH plant in Saarbrücken, Germany. By 2013, in parallel with Chrysler Group, ZF has set up a new transmission production plant in North America, where the 8-speed transmissions will be produced.[6] ZF Friedrichshafen and Chrysler Group have reached a supply and license agreement for ZF's 8HP 8-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler Group is licensed to produce the 8HP at the company’s Kokomo Transmission Plant and the Kokomo Casting plant, starting in 2013.

@Ram Big Bonehead 1500: 2014 Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V-6...hahahahaha...269 lb-ft of torque...wow there a great truck....heeeheeee. Now maybe Fiat can take the car engine out of the 500 and put it in your 5000lb truck. Why not a RAM with no GUTS...the RAM....hey why not the 500's 1.4L MultiAir has 98 ft lb of torque, not much less that you motor.

Ford..hehehehehe...even a bigger POS than Pentastar V-6 with the car engine. How about you trade that Fiat POS in for FORD's next 2.6L Ecobust that just about all you can handle.

"To begin, Ford engineers used much more high-strength, cold-rolled steel in the frame, precisely pinpointing how thick the frame needs to be at any given section or bend point."

You know, I bet that works just ducky when it's brand new, but what about rust? (It's inevitable where I live...roads are salted more or less constantly from November to March.) I doubt these new vehicles will last nearly as long before rust will cause a structural failure somewhere, especially when everything is engineered down to the gnat's ass to save weight...and it's not just Fords...EVERYBODY is using this crap now!

@ tom3

That was the point. you apparantly missed it. havint the lines on the outside and wiring leaves it exposed PLUS they have 2 line unions in the brake lines!!! thats an introduction of 4 new failure points! cheap bastards...

@Ram Big Horn 1500 - A Ram troll arguing with a fetish troll pretending to be me.

I hope this frame is notably stiffer than the one it replaces. I always notice the current f150 bed twists and dances around on rough roads. All of the pickups need to do something to get more rigidity in the frame. The new chevy's seem to have the least twist (at least from the view of following behind). I don't think any of the trucks approach the torsional rigidity of any modern car, suv, cuv etc. You can see this when following one down a rough highway.

@HEMI 4 LIFE - Could you show me where Raptor frames "fold like a wet dish rag"?

I wish more people would site studies/articles for their claims.

I appreciate others opinions, but some of you are out there....

"The front section of the boxed frame has been modified and slightly widened to provide better support for the new engines and deliver better ride and handling."

Which means the new truck will be even BIGGER than the current model! Fine. So it gets better gas mileage than the current one. Where will you park it?

@Tom#3:
" I get the impression that Ford is serious about their F-150 cause there are always press information or videos at the same time Chevy and Ram are quiet.
This brings confidence and pride in the buyer and owner of the F-150 that he believes he has the best."

I get the exact opposite impression from this. To me it sounds like they are trying to convince the skeptics that they're the best rather than letting their truck speak for itself. There's a reason Chevrolet still touts its reliability on the road--talking about how many more older Chevy trucks are registered compared to their competition.

Sure, you still see older Fords--even I own one--but even with 25-year-old models I tend to see more Chevy/GMCs than Fords. What few Fords I see on average are just about completely rusted out and shot--smoking, dragging their tails, etc. (Mine's an exception that proves the rule because it wasn't even driven for almost 10 years between 2002 and 2012. It had to be towed to the lot where I purchased it. Then I had to pay as much to make it road-legal again as I paid to purchase it.

Care to buy a "lightly used" 1990 F-150? Only about 150,000 miles on it.

@ RoadWhale™ - I have to sort of agree. These video's are to sell the new truck just like all of the torture test stories with the EB 3.5.

As far as which truck is more reliable overall based on "longest lasting"....... both Ram and Chevy lay claim to that based on registration.

Some models and years are worse than others for longevity. Some Chevy trucks I see more of, same can be said for Ford or Dodge.

The ubiquitous SBC plays a big role in keeping old Chevy trucks going. It is cheap and plentiful.

If you think there's no loss in capability for a Ram with multilink rear suspension as opposed to leaf springs, then you're daft. Simply take a look at a Ram pulling a 10,500 pound trailer.

Oh, wait, you won't. Because it CAN'T.

Even a Ram pulling a 7,000 trailer is dragging the bumper. Put 2800 pounds of dirt in the bed and you'll be doing the same thing.

GM and Ford trucks to not suffer this affliction.

lray801
I do think Fiat would have designed a Ram to carry more weight if they thought it viable.

UAW DiM has hit the nail on the head with his 'SUV with a balcony' description of US pickuptrucks.

As one of the US consumer reports stated the Ram is the best riding pickup in the US.

You will not have as comfortable a ride with a leaf spring setup.

Ram has intentionally designed the Ram this way, and how many people tow 10 500lbs around. Most of the time there is only one person in the 'SUV with a balcony' pickup.

What really jumps out to me is that radically different inter cooler design. I just got rid of my '12 F150 ecoboost due to condensation issues and a leaking turbo oil seal @ 15,000 miles.

I get nervous when they start taking weight out of the frame. I realize that with finite element analysis you can pinpoint the high and low stress areas and therefore match the materials to the required stresses. My concern is that is on a new truck. In New Hampshire we get lots of snow and ice and therefore a lot of rock salt. the last two trucks I have owned have been lost to the chassis and frame rusting away to nothing over the years seriously large parts have broken and fallen off. when you start thinner and lighter you have shortened that life due to even less metal to rust away. I have seen trucks and cars from the south after 15 years and the underside still looks new with paint still left on most of the parts, that is not the case in the northeast. I would be leery.



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