2015 Enlighten Award in Review – No. 17: Ford F-150

30th July 2016 by Richard Yen

With the CAR MBS starting on Monday and with it, the announcement of our 2016 Altair Enlighten Award winners, we’ve got just enough time for our final look back to last year’s nominations. Today it’s the turn of our overall winner – Ford and its F-150.

Ford engineers responsible for the vehicle were tasked with taking weight out of the truck while improving its performance, safety, efficiency and capability. The team tackled this challenge with intelligent use of the right material in the right place.

Ford increased the amount of high-strength steel in the vehicle’s frame from 23 percent to 78 percent and by doing so increased the frame’s stiffness while reducing weight by as much as 60 pounds. The high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy body is approximately 400 pounds of weight savings over the outgoing steel body. Added together with further weight savings achieved in the vehicle’s seats, bumpers and other components, the vehicle was as much as 700 pounds lighter than the previous model. According to Ford, the lighter weight allows the vehicle to tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter as well as contributing to efficiency.

As Ford’s flagship vehicle, opting for high-strength aluminum alloys over traditional steels in key areas was a bold move and gained many headlines during its launch. Ford had to overcome the challenge of shifting from traditional steel body production to aluminum alloy production, which included new ways to receive and handle aluminum alloys and reduce aluminum manufacturing waste. The waste reduction target seems to be being met, with Ford reporting just a few weeks ago that they recycle enough aluminium to build another 30,000 F-150s every month!

I’ll leave the last word on this truly impressive feat of engineering to Ford themselves, who kindly agreed to speak to us about the development of the F-150 in the video below.

Remember to join us on Monday to find out this year’s winners.