Aerodynamics aren’t just for cars! Just because pickup trucks resemble bricks doesn’t mean nuanced design and styling can’t make a truck more slippery. In Ford‘s case, they sought to find a nice balance of efficiency and “tough, bold looks.”
The 2015 F-150 features squared-off edges that convey the confidence, capability and work-readiness that truck buyers expect in their workhorses, yet it is done in a manner to allow the F-150 to slip through the air more efficiently.
“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,” says the F-150 exterior design manager, Brad Richards. “We made F-150 look tough and capable, while also reducing wind resistance.”
Wind tunnel testing enabled Ford’s designers to see where they could gain greater aerodynamic efficiencies while maintaining the truck look consumers demand:
- Flush-mounted windshield eliminates need for molding that would disrupt smooth airflow.
- The 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 cargo box is narrower than the cab without a reduction in box volume. This enhances airflow, while a subtle trim piece prevents air from getting trapped between the cab and box.
- Rear corners (including taillamps) are angled so air breaks off cleanly, reducing turbulence behind.
- The ducts under the headlamps channels air through to the wheel housing to reduce the wake generated from the wheel.
Adds Richards, “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.”
Interestingly, there’s heritage design cues for the 2015 F-150, such as the headlamp shape that harkens back to the grille surround of the 1948 Ford F-1.