Dearborn, Michigan - Ford’s Ranger one-ton bakkie will return to the American market in 2019 for the first time in eight years - and this is how Ford has been testing the American-spec version ahead of its market release later this year.
What Americans call a mid-sized pickup is not exactly the same one-tonner Ford sells everywhere else - including South Africa - but North American adaptation with its own drivetrain. And it’s an eye-opener to see just how rigorously the company is testing it, to make sure it can stand up to the abuse domestic-market consumers will throw at it without giving them any excuse to do what American consumers top at the drop of a Stetson - sue!
That testing starts in the lab, where a four-post shaker table abuses the suspension for days on end, while computerised microphones listen for squeaks and rattles. It includes the Silver Creek track at the Michigan Proving Grounds, where a Ranger, loaded with a ton of ballast, is run so hard over the bumps that they have to use robot drivers because humans can’t take the continual impacts.
A test mule tows a ballasted trailer up the steep roads to the Davis Dam in Arizona over and over again, because, in the words of Ranger project chief engineer Rick Bolt, “Boats won’t tow themselves to the lake,” and in the Australian Outback, weeks of off-road driving in temperatures close to 40 degrees stresses the aircon way beyond its design limits and finds the slightest gap in the Ranger’s dust sealing.