Vehicle Research

Ford Explains F-150's Air Curtain Technology

July 15, 2015

Photo of 2015 F-150 in a wind tunnel courtesy of Ford.
Photo of 2015 F-150 in a wind tunnel courtesy of Ford.

Ford implemented new air curtain technology on its 2015 F-150 that directs air flow in a way that reduces drag and aids fuel efficiency, according to Ford.

Air curtain technology, which first debuted on the all-new Ford Mustang, allows air to flow through a vent underneath the headlamps and out around the wheel. Side-by-side animations from Ford show how airflow is smoother at the front wheel and down the side of the truck with the air curtain, versus without it.

By optimizing the aerodynamic design of the F-150, Ford designers and engineers reduced drag to help F-150 deliver a best-in-class gasoline EPA-estimated rating of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway when equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, according to Ford.

Graphic courtesy of Ford.
Graphic courtesy of Ford.

"With the new F-150, an extensive amount of time was spent running aerodynamic simulations and doing wind tunnel tests," said Rob Lietz, Ford technical expert in applied computational fluid dynamics. "Major advances in our computational fluid dynamics capability let us quickly see how we could improve airflow while maintaining the tough truck looks expected from F-150."

Rotating wheels are a major source of drag, according to Ford. On the 2015 F-150, horizontal slots underneath the headlamps channel air from the front of the truck through ducting to openings in the wheel wells, directing it across the outer surface of the wheel and tire. The wall of high-speed air works much like a skirt to reduce drag, while still leaving the alloy wheels fully exposed.

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