In order to ensure that it would fully live up to the ‘Built Ford Tough’ slogan, the Blue Oval showed no mercy in testing 2021 Ford F-150 prototypes equipped with the PowerBoost configuration. The electrified truck underwent the same grueling tests as the conventionally powered workhorse, as well as a new torture test developed specifically for the hybrid model.
The liquid-cooled 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery was placed on top of a “mechanical bull on steroids” to simulate a bumpy road that an F-150 hybrid would tackle. Essentially, the device takes the form of a table that shakes at a rapid pace without any interruption for 82 hours straight. This grueling process is equivalent to 10 years of simulated service in less than four days of torture testing.
Beyond the battery which required a special lab setup in Akron, New York, the rest of the truck was tested in the open, much like the gasoline-powered F-150. Ford took prototypes for off-road testing in Borrego Springs, Calif., To assess how the hybrid would perform in difficult terrain and at high temperatures. Dust, mud, rocks and elevations – ingredients to accurately test a vehicle developed to think outside the box.
As with virtually every other Ford developed for the U.S. market, the F-150 PowerBoost was also flown to the company’s Michigan Proving Grounds for further testing. Ford explains that some of the tests are so intense and dangerous that they must be automated to eliminate the risk of injuring a human driver. Just three months of relentless suspension and underbody testing over bumps and potholes simulates 10 years of life.
Special attention was also paid to the towing capabilities of the electrified F-150. The spec sheet says it has a maximum conventional towing capacity of 12,700 lbs, which is “the most towing ever offered by a full hybrid pickup.” Ford took prototypes to the Davis Dam in Arizona, particularly on the 11.4-mile incline that climbs to 3,500 feet with an average grade of six percent, while fully loaded trucks also had to endure extreme heat.
Before the arrival of the Raptor, the PowerBoost model lived up to its name by being the most powerful F-150 in the range. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 430 horsepower and 773 Nm (570 lb-ft), enough to deliver a maximum payload of 2,120 lb. As with the other five powertrains, the hybrid engine is tied exclusively to a ten-speed automatic transmission.
Ford estimates that about 10% of all buyers will opt for the hybrid model once the revised truck goes on sale this fall.