It appears Ford is taking extra measures to ensure its new 2015 F-150 will withstand the test of time and unfavorable weather conditions, including harsh sunlight. The automaker has announced its practices for testing both interior and exterior parts, and it’s rather interesting.

A majority of testing took place at Ford’s own Central Lab, where individual parts were subjected to a Thermatron. Like a scene from an old Sci-Fi film, the Thermatron blasts the parts with UV rays over an extended timeframe, simulating five years of sun exposure in a fraction of the time.

Ford is paying a lot of attention to the F-150’s interior in terms of its anti-glare properties. Washed out gauges, infotainment screen, and reflective materials on the dash have all been eliminated – preventing the driver from getting shot in the eye with a beam of sun reflecting off a chrome trim piece.

Special attention is also being paid to the exterior badges. A quick look at any mid- to late-2000s F-Series truck will reveal Ford had serious issues with its badges fading. Ford says it tested all its exterior badges under some 3,000 hours of sun-like conditions, along with temperatures as cold as -40 degrees Celsius followed by a steam bath of 100 degrees Celsius. That’s serious stuff.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Ford F-150.

Why it Matters

2015 Ford F-150 Underwent Extreme Testing to Assure There is No Fading Exterior
- image 568319

Automakers are making vehicles that last longer than ever these days, but a vehicle will lose its value more quickly if it loses its visual appeal. The ability to keep parts looking new is extremely valuable for resale. Consider how much more valuable some of those 1980s and 90s cars with faded, cracked dashboards and peeling trim pieces would be if those parts still looked new. Thankfully Ford isn’t the only automaker to be testing its products in this manner, so we can look forward to a crop of good-looking used cars from here on out.

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 537938

The F-150 is about as iconic as it gets for an American automaker. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for a number of decades and it doesn’t look like Ford intends to slow down. Its all-new 2015 F-150 gets an industry-first (for such a mass-scale vehicle) aluminum body, an all-new 2.7-liter, EcoBoost V-6, and new looks inside and out.

The new 2.7-liter EcoBoost will make 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque and will feature a segment-exclusive Auto Start-Stop system that allows the engine to shut off when not moving. The system won’t operate when in four-wheel-drive or tow/haul mode, so it will still act like a truck in those cases. Also returning are the 3.5-liter V-6, the 5.0-liter V-8, and the 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6. The 6.2-liter V-8 has been dropped for 2015.

Pricing for the 2015 F-150 starts at $26,615 and rises past $52,000 for the top trim level. Expect to pay more with options added.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
About the author

Press Release

Sunlight takes a toll on a vehicle, much like it does your skin and eyes. So Ford designed and tested its all-new F-150 pickup to ensure a fade-resistant exterior and interior and to minimize interior glare.

2015 Ford F-150 Underwent Extreme Testing to Assure There is No Fading Interior
- image 568316

Much of the testing was done in the company’s Central Lab, where Ford engineers focus on making individual parts stronger and more durable. A device known as a ‘Thermatron’ simulates damaging UV sun rays and can be used over long periods of time on prototype parts to help identify the best design for production.

Anti-glare testing took place in Ford’s Visual Performance Evaluation Lab, also known as the Lighting Lab. The Lighting Lab can replicate almost any sunlight conditions from dawn to dusk, as well as changes to natural light caused by weather conditions.

“‘Built Ford Tough’ means more than surviving dirt, rocks and mud or towing heavy trailers,” said Cindy McComb, Materials Engineer, Central Lab. “Ford trucks need to look as good after five years of exposure to sun, wind and rain as they do when they leave the showroom floor. Testing these conditions for long term durability is our job in Central Lab.”

2015 Ford F-150 Underwent Extreme Testing to Assure There is No Fading Exterior
- image 568317

Even the F-150’s badge is tough tested. Both the iconic Blue Oval and F-150 badges endured 3,000 hours of sun-like conditions — the equivalent of five years. The three-piece badge also was exposed to temperatures as cold as 40 below Celsius followed by blasts of steam as hot as 100 degrees Celsius to help ensure chrome plating adheres to the badge so individual pieces won’t warp or crack.

The Central Lab also places individual exterior and interior parts on outside racks for six months at a time at a facility in central Florida – NASA also conducts tests there – to look for fading and other signs of degradation. The parts were examined under a special xenon light to reveal damage normally invisible to the human eye. Parts are only approved for production if they meet rigorous fade-resistance standards.

2015 Ford F-150 Underwent Extreme Testing to Assure There is No Fading
- image 568313

Direct sunlight does more than fade parts over time. It can also make it hard to see information displayed on gauges and display screens used in navigation and entertainment systems. The new F-150 instrument panel has shaded gauges to minimize glare. Ford engineers also used advanced computer aided design software to identify the least reflective materials for use throughout the Ford F-150 interior.

Certain gauges and instruments shaded from glare are enhanced with supplemental lighting to make them readable in their recessed positions.

Indirect glare from general daylight brightness can wash out navigation and entertainment screen displays, too. Engineers tested various colors for the new F-150, ultimately choosing those that are easy to see under bright conditions.

“By reducing indirect glare, the driver should almost never see a sun spot in the center screen or instrument cluster,” said Cary Diehl, human factors engineer at Ford. “In addition to testing gauges and screens under these conditions, we even looked at the amount of light given off by LEDs in secondary controls such as window and steering wheel switches, to ensure they would not be distracting to the driver when lit.”

2015 Ford F-150 Underwent Extreme Testing to Assure There is No Fading Exterior
- image 568319

During anti-glare testing in the Lighting Lab, which boasts 6,000 watts of lighting and a planetarium-like dome, Ford tested prototype F-150s under a full variety of simulated lighting conditions.

“Many F-150 customers will use their truck for work at outdoor jobsites. They don’t have the time or patience to deal with hard to read gauges or controls inside the truck,” said Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford lighting technical specialist. “Our work in the Lighting Lab ensures that despite almost any weather outside, customers will find it easy to read controls inside the truck today and years from tomorrow.”

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: