Ford’s all-new F-150 SuperCrew has earned the government’s highest possible crash safety rating thanks to 31 new safety-related innovations.
The truck has been awarded a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program.
Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, says Ford’s truck team worked together for years to deliver an unprecedented combination of advanced materials throughout the all-new F-150.
“The 2015 model is engineered to be the safest F-150 ever, which matters to customers who depend on this truck to not only get the job done, but also get them safely home,” he says.
F-150’s improved performance is enabled by up to a 700-pound weight savings through the use of high-strength steel in the frame; high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy in the body; and smart engineering.
A cross-functional group comprised of Ford truck product development veterans and researchers worked to precisely optimize vehicle weight savings and manufacturing design to deliver improved durability, capability, fuel economy and crashworthiness. The team created and patented new structures, materials and joining methods that were tested virtually with supercomputer simulations, then retested in Ford’s advanced laboratories to engineer the safest F-150 ever.
Supercomputers for safety
The F-150 team started engineering the truck with supercomputers before the first units were ever even crash-tested in a lab.
Engineers developed digital safety models with nearly 1.4 million separate elements to examine how even the smallest parts of the truck would perform in a crash situation.
Safety starts with the frame
Safety starts with the truck’s signature, fully boxed frame – the backbone of the all-new F-150.
Engineers added an extra crossmember and increased the use of high-strength steel to improve stiffness, durability and safety – while also helping reduce the frame’s weight by up to 60 pounds.
“The team had to invent new ways to manage crash energy, because advanced materials like high-strength steel behave differently,” said Matt Niesluchowski, Ford truck safety manager. “We found that changing certain shapes led to a weight reduction, while also improving crash performance.”
Safety engineers developed a patented 12-corner front crush horn to dissipate more energy in a front impact. The uniquely shaped structure helps manage crash forces so the frame buckles predictably to keep those forces away from occupants in the cabin. This is just one of the 31 new safety-related innovations the team developed to make the truck safer in the event of a crash.
Safety improvements to the aluminum-alloy body
Ford’s advanced research and safety teams worked together to engineer F-150’s high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body structure to manage what happens to the body in the event of a crash.
The truck’s cab features hydroformed roof rails that constitute a cage-like structure around the doors, extruded roof bows to provide lateral strength across the top of the cab, and extruded rocker rails near the bottom to reinforce lower body strength.
How various parts of the truck were joined also yielded safety improvements. In many cases, welding was not the most effective way to join parts, so the team developed and patented methods to connect parts using high-strength adhesives. This resulted in structural strength equal to or greater than traditional welds.
Additional safety features
New to F-150 is an advanced restraint system that includes an adaptive steering column that adjusts energy management depending on occupant size and safety belt usage. The system includes dual-stage airbags and side-curtain airbags.
The all-new F-150 offers the following safety features:
- Safety belt pretensioners added to the belt anchor side that further tighten the lap belt around front seat occupants, keeping them in a more secure spot early in the event of a crash
- Curve Control, a technology that will slow the vehicle when it senses the truck is going too fast for a particular curve
- Available inflatable rear safety belts for SuperCrew – a segment-first feature
The 2015 F-150 introduces all-new driver-assist and semi-autonomous technologies, including several class-exclusive features such as adaptive cruise control and active park assist.
Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support use radar in the front of the truck to measure the distance and speed of vehicles ahead. Using this information, F-150 can automatically slow to keep a consistent following distance set by the driver. Collision warning triggers visual and audio alerts if the system detects the following distance is diminishing too quickly and a collision may occur. It also pre-charges the brakes if the driver needs to stop suddenly.
Active park assist uses two ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers parallel park. The sensors measure the gap between two vehicles to determine if there is enough room for the truck. After confirming the F-150 can fit, active park assist automatically steers the truck into the space, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals.
Lane-keeping system is designed to help prevent a driver from drifting out of the intended driving lane. The system detects the left- or right-hand road lane markings using a camera mounted between the windshield and interior rearview mirror. A warning vibration in the steering wheel is used to alert the driver that the vehicle is drifting out of the lines. Semi-autonomous lane-keeping aid then can provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed.