Aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 Aims to Boost Gas Mileage and Durability

The 2015 Ford F-150, which debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, uses cutting edge materials and a unique frame design. Starting with the fully boxed frame, Ford engineers increased the use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel — from 23% to 77% of the frame — to improve stiffness and durability while reducing weight. The new frame is up to 60 lbs. lighter than the current frame.

“Our frame team developed exclusive, industry first engineering techniques to create a truck foundation that is lighter without sacrificing toughness,” says John Caris, F-150 lead frame engineer.

Weight-saving body

Ford engineers increased the use of advanced materials in the F-150 body. High-strength, aluminum alloys are used throughout the body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance and also saving weight.

The F-150 is up to 700 lbs. lighter than its predecessor, raising the truck’s towing and cargo capacities, improving acceleration and stopping performance and making the truck more efficient. Military grade aluminum alloys were selected because of the lighter metals’ unique ability to withstand tough customer demands.

“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,” says Pete Friedman, manager, Ford manufacturing research. “Out of all the materials tested, we carefully selected only certain grades of aluminum that met our high performance standards in all of our tests, while allowing us to trim hundreds of pounds from the truck.”

The reduced weight enables the F-150 to tow and haul more while also improving acceleration, braking and handling performance. Adding to these benefits, aluminum alloys will not rust and are resistant to corrosion, helping enhance vehicle life.

New Engine Option

There will be four engines available: a 3.5-liter V6, 5.0-liter V8, 3.5-liter EcoBoost and a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The high-output, twin-turbo, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is engineered specifically for the next-generation F-150.

“We’ve applied lessons learned from the 3.5-liter EcoBoost to the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost, but with new technologies that make this more efficient engine perform like a larger mid-range V8,” says Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development.

Enhancing the 2.7-liter EcoBoost’s fuel efficiency is the debut of standard Auto Start-Stop technology. This technology, specially tuned for truck customers, shuts off the engine when the vehicle is at a stop — except when towing or in four-wheel drive — to give drivers power on demand when they need it most. When the brake is released, the engine restarts quickly.

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine features the first use of a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block in a gasoline engine, the same material used in Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V8 engine. The composite CGI/aluminum block saves weight while providing strength where it’s needed most for durability.

“Previous engine block design choices were high strength or compact or lightweight,” says Ed Waszczenko, engine systems supervisor. “We wanted to go further with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost and design an engine with compact structure and high strength and light weight.”

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost also features new engine logic that adjusts operating parameters on the fly to provide the best efficiency and performance for the environment and workload.

Engine ratings and fuel economy are yet to be released. ET