The test regime for Ford’s new Ranger is said to have been one of the toughest and most thorough programs ever conducted by the Blue Oval, with more testing in both the virtual and the real worlds than before.
As John Willems, chief program engineer for Ranger, said, “Earning a ‘Built Ford Tough’ status is not something we take lightly. Every part of the next-generation Ranger was tested to the same standards that we demand of every Ford vehicle.
“It’s important that our customers are able to rely on Ranger to deliver years of dependable service. So we’ve gone to great lengths to subject next-gen Ranger to extreme tests – stressing it much more than a typical consumer would – to help ensure it is ready to face everything life throws at it,” continued Willems. “Whether it’s tackling muddy bush tracks, coping with the rigors of extreme tropical weather, towing over alpine passes, or enduring temperatures of more than 50°C, Ranger has to do it all.”
Virtual work consisted of thousands of hours of simulation and thousands of lab tests, including aerodynamics analysis, component assessment and structural durability, along with a raft of other tests.
To date, Ranger has been tested in the desert for 10,000km, for 1,250,000km on roads replicating everyday driving, and the equivalent of 625,000km of off-road durability testing at maximum load capacity.
“Computer simulations have helped us speed up development, while lab testing has helped us refine and test specific components – but there really is no replacement for real-world testing to really see how it stands up to years of customer use,” commented Willems.
Many of the tests are designed to mimic scenarios encountered by end users, Ford stresses. Some are deemed too grueling for humans to endure, so digital tools and robotics replace humans in these tests. For example, a squeak and rattle rig was used to assess the Ranger’s suspension and whole body in a series of analyses conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a set period.
“Our job as engineers is to translate the customer experience insights into a clear product definition brief for the engineering group, which becomes the absolute reference for engineers. This is particularly important for the Ranger, given that we are developing it to be sold across the globe,” Willems concluded.