An icon requires attention and commitment.
There's a lot to be impressed about with the all-new 2021 Ford F-150. From its handsome exterior design to those ultra-cool Max Recline front seats, the latest F-150 should retain its crown as the best-selling vehicle in the US. It also outsells its Chevrolet and Ram rivals. To maintain this success, Ford's F-150 development team is constantly seeking customer feedback. Basically, the work never stops. But what's pretty amazing is that development for the new truck actually began in 2015 - the year its predecessor hit the market.
Speaking to Ford Authority, F-150 engineering manager Dawn Piechocki admitted preliminary work got underway some six years ago. "Development of the 14th gen F-150 started back in 2015, when we were launching the 13th generation F-150," Piechocki said. "This gave the team time to do a lot of research, like the immersion event."
That event involved inviting 50 or so dedicated F-150 owners to discuss what they like and don't like in their trucks and, equally important, the types of features they'd like to have based on their lifestyle habits. Aside from the in-person event, Ford sought feedback throughout the previous truck's lifetime. This resulted in features such as the aforementioned reclining seats and others including the optional lockable, fold-flat rear storage vault that extends the width of the rear seats, interior work surface, and standard dual glovebox.
The exterior comes standard with cleats mounted to the tailgate's sides that serve as tie-down spots for long cargo. Another nifty feature is the available Tailgate Work Surface with integrated rulers, and holders for a cup, mobile device, and pencils.
"The goal here is, let's take a different approach - not just a survey of what people want," Piechocki added. "Instead, the approach was to do behaviors - how they use the trucks, identify pain points - things that are cumbersome, awkward, not intuitive - ask why customer may have had to do something and what the end goal was. We first observed, and then came up with concepts to solve the pain points."
Ford's early F-150 development process timeline, assuming it continues, also means the earliest research stages on the 15th generation model are about to get underway if they haven't already. Bear in mind both a hybrid and fully electric F-150 are on the way and it'll be fascinating for Piechocki and crew to learn customer feedback for them.