When it was officially announced that the 2015 Ford F-150 would have an all-aluminum body, it had a massive impact on the segment and left many wondering how well this new material would hold up to the rigors and abuse that fullsize trucks can typically endure in the field. Ford knew that it would have to prove the ‘15 F-150 wasn't just as tough and as good as its predecessor, but tougher and better.
However, real-world prototype testing is a cat-and-mouse game of trying to hide vehicles in plain sight, eluding the seemingly ever-present spy photographers while gathering real-world test data. But Ford went incognito in its testing of components for the ‘15 F-150. The first step was entering an aluminum-bodied truck with the 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 in the Baja 1000, unbeknownst to other drivers. The truck finished the grueling race without any major issues.
Step two was the under-cover deployment of six F-150s equipped with aluminum cargo boxes in various vocational settings to give Ford engineers some real-world feedback and observation about how the material fared under on-the-job punishment. The trucks were evaluated every three months to gauge usage patterns and potential issues. In the course of testing, a decision was made to increase the thickness of the bed material for greater durability. A visibility issue reported by another user also resulted in some changes to the bed and seat heights to improve visibility.
The customers were not given specifics of what was changed on the truck, but some became suspicious when the exposed sheetmetal in the beds did not exhibit the typical red surface corrosion seen under hard use. The trucks are still being used today, with some being driven hundreds of miles a day under rigorous conditions.