’15 Ford F-150 reportedly “most aerodynamically efficient ever”

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2015 Ford F-150 aerodynamics press graphic

Ford says the 2015 Ford F-150, despite its boxy shape, is “the most aerodynamically efficient F-150 ever.” (Image courtesy Ford Motor Company)

In addition to being made of aluminum, the 2015 Ford F-150 reportedly is the “most aerodynamically efficient F-150 ever,” according to Ford.

Of course, it might be a lot more aerodynamically efficient if consumers didn’t seem to want the butchest-looking, most square-jawed designs in full-size trucks of the last two decades, but I digress.

A press release from Ford said engineers from the Motor Company had to try to make the 2015 Ford F-150 meet its lofty aerodynamics goals without sacrificing its “tough, bold looks that define Ford trucks,” whatever that means. According to the release, the 2015 Ford F-150’s series of creases and edges actually work to enhance its aerodynamics.

We’ll take their word for it, I guess.

Ford F-150 Exterior Design Manager Brad Richards said, “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. We made F-150 look tough and capable, while also reducing wind resistance.”

According to the release, strategically designed edges enable airflow to “hug” the surface of the 2015 Ford F-150 at its front portion, while rear corners are designed to allow air to “cleanly detach” from the surface of the truck to reduce turbulence that can cause drag at the rear of the vehicle, reducing efficiency.

Ford said despite the grille’s vertical stance, the fact that its outer portions are angled back leading to the headlamps and bumper corners that are themselves swept back allows air to smoothly flow down the sides of the 2015 Ford F-150. Ford gave some examples of how wind-tunnel testing of a clay model of the 2015 Ford F-150 allowed engineers to make improvements to the truck’s aerodynamics:

  • 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.

Richards said, “Testing in the wind tunnel helped us fine-tune a happy medium between styling, aerodynamics, engineering and cost. We learned where we could push shape and design to reduce drag, and where to stop when we weren’t gaining anything.

“The shapes, lines, angles and motifs are much stronger on the all-new F-150, and the chiseled edges convey toughness,” Richards continued. “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.”

Interesting trivia piece: To signify the more aerodynamic, efficient truck — because a truck that takes less engine work to push it through the air uses less fuel, after all — the 2015 Ford F-150 sees changes to the truck’s badge. Ford said the “F” is opened up slightly, and all of the badging characters are shaped with bevels to mimic those used in the truck’s design.

Ford Vehicles Badge Design Leader Marco Querciagrossa said, “F-Series is all about bold and tough. We created a badge that confidently conveys that.”

It’s hard for me to imagine these bigger, boxier trucks are somehow more aerodynamically efficient than the slightly smaller, slick-bodied trucks like the 1997 Ford F-150, but I suppose time — and aerodynamics technology — marches on. I just can’t help wondering what a truck shaped more like the ’90s F-150s could do in terms of aerodynamics if the same aero tricks used on the 2015 Ford F-150 had been applied to it.

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