Towing those trailers is the raison de etre of the F-450 pickup. Its
appeal is obvious, leaving us to wonder why Ford didn’t offer a
pickup bed on the F-450 chassis cab previously. After all, aftermarket
companies sold the trucks with pickup beds, right?
companies don’t have the same durability requirements for their
products that Ford Motor Co. has, replies Reyes.
The problem was that previous F-450s used industry-standard straight
frame rails 34-inches apart to accept various aftermarket beds. Pickup-type
beds won’t survive mounted on narrow frames because of the twisting
forces that have greater leverage on the narrow mounts. “The box
wouldn’t survive our durability cycle,” Reyes explained. “You
couldn’t distribute the loads properly over the box on the narrow
Ford’s solution was to redesign the F-450’s frame to spread
wide aft of the cab, providing a secure platform for the bed. But now
the wide frame rails ran too close to the massive commercial-duty axle
used on the F-450.
One of the benefits of those axles is the huge brake assembly. But over
suspension’s range of travel, the mounting heads on the large brake
calipers could contact the frame. “This isn’t a drop-in axle,”
he said. “We are pushing the limits on the size of the components
you can put in a traditional pickup.”
was to use half-height mounting bolts to shave some space on one side
of the problem, and to design some indentations in the frame for extra
clearance on the other side.
A pickup truck touch is the use of a mid-mounted fuel tank, leaving space
out behind the axle to carry the spare tire. Also at the rear of the truck
is an innovative step ladder build into the tail gate that folds out to
make it easier to climb into the truck’s bed.
A quick tug
on the ladder extends it from an open tailgate, and another motion snaps
a grab-handle into its upright position. The ladder looks like the kind
of thing that manufacturers have been co-opting from the aftermarket in
recent years, but nothing like this existed before.
Ford’s engineers got the idea when a couple of them spotted a removable
step installed on a tailgate at the annual SEMA show. Looking at the tailgate,
which they knew to be hollow, they started plotting ways to use that space
to house a deployable step.
A couple customer clinics found strong interest from truck owners, who
even said they liked the step enough to switch from competitor’s
trucks to get it, so Ford aggressively pursued the idea. While the step
looks a little flimsy, the company says it will hold 1,000 lbs., so do
not fear additional stops at Waffle House will render it unusable.
Like the F-450’s bed, more effort went into the step than its appearance
might suggest. “It was just a matter of working through bugs, and
improving the weight, smoothness, life expectancy,” Reyes said.
Additional testing found a grab-handle was a must, and the team went through
five different versions of that. The step itself is designed to OSHA specs,
so professional users should be satisfied if their employees use the device.
have been around for years, but they have always been intrusive when not
in use, so Ford developed the Super Duty’s new collapsing bed extender
to fold completely out of the way. “Customers said, ‘Get it
out of my way,’” said Reyes. “If you look at it, the
problem became one of simple geometry.”
Simple maybe, but Ford is the first to solve this particular problem.
Another folding component is the Super Duty’s outside mirrors. The
truck has the industry’s first power extending and folding mirrors.
This lets drivers easily slide out mirrors on both sides when towing,
and not only retract them for regular driving, but even fold them both
in for parking in tight spots.