Redesigning the Ford F-150 is an ambitious project. Some might say it is the most ambitious project. We’re talking about the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the past three decades. It’s a truck that has no equal. Yet Ford believes they can always do better, and that’s why they assigned Chief Engineer Pete Reyes and Chief Designer Gordon Platto the Herculean task of reconfiguring the F-series.
Car and Driver took Reyes and Platto aside at the Detroit Auto Show a few weeks ago and asked them about their process, trying to determine how they made the F-150 better than it’s ever been. For one thing, they took their time. Advanced research on the 2015 F-150 had been underway since 2009. The all-aluminum body is all people seem to talk about when they mention this truck, but as Reyes points out, aluminum is not a new thing when it comes to making cars. It’s only new, only revolutionary, when dealing with trucks. He said that while they had access to the material and to the diverse spectrum of alloys utilized in making the 2015 F-150, they had to wait until the computer-assisted tools necessary to properly engineer it were available.
Ultimately, they said the design was totally customer-driven. The new F-150 had to answer every question and solve every problem that a Ford truck owner might have. The customers wanted toughness, size, and fuel efficiency. Those three were the deciding factors in pursuing an aluminum body that reduced the overall weight of the truck by 700 pounds. Customers also wanted better seating and better visibility, so Platto and his crew lowered the belt lines to allow for that. The positive response to the Atlas concept shown last year also influenced the design of the F-150.