How the new Ford Ranger is being put through its paces ahead of launch
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Pretoria - As you will know by now if you’ve been following the series of teaser images (see the latest and most revealing pics here), the new Ford Ranger is set to make its official debut later this year, ahead of it going on sale in 2022.
Behind the scenes, Ford has been putting the new bakkie through its paces across some of the world’s roughest terrain. So far prototypes have covered the equivalent of 1.25 million kilometres of customer driving, as well as 625 000km worth of rugged off-road durability testing at maximum payload and 10 000km of pure desert driving.
“It’s important that our customers are able to rely on Ranger to deliver years of dependable service,” said chief program engineer John Willems. “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.
“Whether it’s tackling muddy bush tracks, coping with the rigours of extreme tropical weather, towing over alpine passes, or enduring temperatures of more than 50° Celsius, Ranger has to do it all,” Willems added.
Ford says it uses robots and computer simulations to replace humans when the testing required is too rigorous, such as the “extreme squeak and rattle” rig, where the vehicle’s suspension and body is exposed to “punishing” test cycles that are repeated around the clock.
Even before the new Ford Ranger prototypes were torture-tested, engineers subjected the vehicle to thousands of hours of computer simulations as well as thousands more of real-world simulations in labs. These covered everything from component and structure durability right through to aerodynamics.
“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,” Willems added.