When people think of hybrids, their minds often go straight to the Toyota Prius. It's a practical car for its great mileage if not exactly a tough vehicle. But Ford next year is releasing the first hybrid version of its F-150 pickup truck, and the automaker wants to prove that it's "Ford Tough" just like any other.
Extreme stress tests — Ford has promised the hybrid powertrain will offer the most torque and horsepower of any light-duty full-size pickup, meaning customers won't sacrifice any capability in the switch.
In a video published Tuesday, Ford details all the ways it tortured the F-150 Hybrid to demonstrate that the 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery inside will hold up much longer than the battery in your phone. The automaker ran the truck through a litany of off-road conditions, up steep inclines, and through varying climates.
Using a custom-built hydraulic rig, engineers violently shook the hybrid PowerBoost drivetrain, simulating the harshest potholes and washboard roads. Ford claims that 82 hours in the machine equates to 10 years of real-world abuse.
The road to all-electric — Ford also drove the truck through real-world potholes, grooved roads, and up extreme inclines — some of the road conditions were so punishing that the company put robots in the cars instead of human test drivers. To prove the battery won't overheat and explode like a Samsung Galaxy Note, engineers hitched a 12,700-pound load to the hybrid truck and climbed up steep grades in the Mojave Desert. All told, the real-world testing was supposed to simulate a decade of driving in three months.
The work Ford is doing with the F-150 Hybrid should contribute to the eventual release of its fully-electric F-150 that's potentially due out in mid-2022. The automaker recently showed off a prototype of that truck, and says it will have more horsepower and torque than any F-Series truck available today — Ford even released footage of that truck towing a whopping 1 million pounds.
The electric F-150 could pose a real challenge to Tesla's Cybertruck thanks to its more classic design. The F-150 is, after all, the most popular truck in America. Without any compromises to its power, the less controversial design could be appealing.
Ford designed the F-150 Hybrid around supporting high towing requirements and offering a special generator system for powering worksites. The fully-electric version will offer that same functionality. These types of unique benefits over a gas-powered truck are expected to help sell loyalists on the idea of switching to electric even should gas prices remain low.