The body of the new F-150 isn’t the only thing being reinvented for the 2015 model year.
Ford lighting expert John Teodecki says the company will use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the Ford brand’s flagship truck. Ford is the first company to offer LED headlamps on its light-duty pickup.
LED lamps use 63 percent less energy than the halogen bulbs seen in competitor trucks, and the light quality and aesthetics of the technology are superior, Teodecki says, adding LEDs are made to last more than five times longer.
“Stand on it,” Teodecki says, resting atop an 11-pound F-150 headlamp unit. “This lens just won’t break. We fire stones at it, expose it to extreme sun, soak it in saltwater, shoot rocks, rock salt and ice – this thing is very tough to crack.”
To develop its headlamp technology, Ford leveraged the expertise of its longtime lighting developers OSRAM and Flex-N-Gate. The program is creating more than 30 jobs at the OSRAM Hillsboro, N.H. facility.
Halogen bulbs have been in use for most vehicle applications for years, with a design similar to standard household light bulbs. Thin filaments inside the bulb last for about 40,000 miles before needing to be replaced. Extreme temperatures and vibration from washboard roads can shorten the life of halogen filaments even further, Teodecki says.
The next step up from halogen is high-intensity discharge headlamps. HID light illuminates the road more uniformly than halogen bulbs. Ford offers this type of lighting on many of its vehicles, including the current model F-150.
With the LED lighting system available for the new F-150, Teodecki says Ford lighting experts had more freedom with the lamp design since LEDs are smaller than typical headlamps and are easier to package.
The new Ford F-150 LED headlamp unit uses semiconductor chips to control the light, and Ford designers created a unique lens for the F-150 LED headlamp with special machines that carve out 16 precision optical surfaces and 80 facets on the lens face to spread the light evenly.
The innovative design magnifies the light, Teodecki says, allowing Ford to better illuminate the road for the new F-150 driver using just a single LED per lamp.
Ford designers outlined the LED headlamp with a thin LED tube to create a signature appearance for the new truck that can be spotted from great distances at night.
“Remember the craze in the 1980s with truck light bars?” Teodecki said. “It looks so cool. I’m telling you, this LED light tube is going to be the next big thing. Our new F-150 owners will be longing for dusk every day, just to show off their trucks in dramatic lighting.”