Ford F-150 Hybrid's Extreme Durability Tests Aren't Safe For Humans

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Robots literally had to get behind the wheel as some conditions were too punishing for humans.

Ford recently shared the class-leading capability numbers that will make the all-new F-150 the towing and hauling king in its segment. The engine lineup was also shared, and at the top of the heap is the 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid which delivers a potent 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque.

To prove that the hybridized F-150 is just as tough as its conventionally powered counterparts and win over a steadily declining group of hybrid doubters, Ford has subjected the PowerBoost to some extreme torture testing. Ford went as far as to use a special laboratory test rig with the aim of abusing the 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, a setup that simulates a decade of hard use in a period of only 82 hours.

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The brand's catchphrase Built Ford Tough is more than just a marketing ploy; it's a philosophy that should extend to every vehicle the company makes, regardless of what's under the hood. As a result, the PowerBoost hybrid underwent the same tests that were required of other F-150s, including towing heavy trailers over mountain passes in desert conditions exceeding 100 degrees.

These endurance tests included harsh off-road terrain, withstanding high-humidity chambers, and navigating frozen tundras. Since hybrid and electric-powered vehicles can be negatively affected by colder temperatures, these tests are important. It's why Ford was seen testing the Mustang Mach-E in temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees.

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Ford also built a custom testing machine that uses multi-axis hydraulic actuation. The goal? To forcefully shake the F-150 PowerBoost's battery, simulating harsh potholes and other off-road obstacles. Further to this, the truck was subjected to towing its maximum 12,700 pounds at the Davis Dam in Arizona's Mojave Desert, an area that includes an 11.4-mile slope that rises by 3,500 feet.

Some tests were so violent that they required robots to drive the F-150, as the conditions would be too hazardous for human testers. Jack Parnoutsoukian, a high-voltage application engineer, described the F-150 PowerBoost as "like a mechanical bull on steroids."

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Finally, engineers traveled to Anza-Borrego Desert in Southern California and thrashed the F-150 across jagged rocks, mud walls, and mountainous sand dunes.

"Just because it's a hybrid doesn't mean we treated PowerBoost with kid gloves," explained Craig Schmatz, chief engineer of the F-150. "To earn Built Ford Tough certification, PowerBoost went through the torture testing we put all of our powertrains through."

The torquiest F-150 yet is clearly ready to conquer rivals like the Ram 1500 when it goes on sale this fall, and the PowerBoost is all set to put any doubts about hybrid durability to bed.

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