Science

Ford has revealed the secrets of the artificial bird poop they use to test paint

Ford has revealed how its tests the effects of bird poop on its paint.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While getting a bit of bird poo on you may be good luck in some countries, the thought of you, or your car, wearing a smidgeon from a pigeon's posterior isn't all that great. In fact, it can be quite harmful if you don't wipe it off your car quickly.

Bird poop is often white and black, but it's not all poop. The white part is uric acid, the equivalent of human urine. The poop itself is made in the digestive system and while both can be secreted at the same time, it happens with such speed that the two don't have time to mix.

That combination can degrade a vehicle's exterior, burning its way through the clear coat and, in some cases, bleaching the paint itself. Paint has evolved, like every other component in the auto industry, and automakers are finding new ways to research the effect of droppings on new paints.

Ford is using artificial bird poop.

The solution that makes up the test droppings is produced in a laboratory in Germany, and its combination of ingredients reflects the different diets of various species of bird life throughout Europe.

To test the paint hardiness, sample test panels are sprayed with the solution then aged at 40° C, 50° C and 60° C in an oven to replicate customer use in extreme heats.

The results determine what happens next.

Ford can fine-tune the pigments, resins, and additives that go into making a car's paintwork. By changing up the make-up to resist the pollutants, no matter the weather, Ford is able to offer its customers a longer-lasting paint job.

The automaker can also conduct other types of tests including a UV test, which bombards paint with ultraviolet light for up to 6,000 hours (250 days) in a light lab – simulating five years in the brightest place on Earth. They can simulate the paint being frozen in sub-zero temperatures, expose it to harsh winter road grime in a high humidity salt chamber, and simulate fuel staining.

Ford Versus Bird Poop www.youtube.com

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Hardcore off-road SUV

Ford Bronco Raptor is real and on its way in 2022

Ford's video gave up very little on the new SUV.

Ford

The long-awaited Ford Bronco went on sale earlier this year and overwhelming demand has many buyers waiting months for the opportunity to own one. Ford isn't resting on that success, however, and is already hitting the gas on the SUV with the tease of a new model. The even longer-awaited Ford Bronco Raptor is coming, though we don't yet have many details to share, but Ford CEO Jim Farley shared a video to Twitter this morning that gives us a little to go on. More importantly, the video confirms that the Bronco Raptor is coming, which is music to our ears.

Ford Bronco Raptor Pause the video at the exact right moment, and you can catch a blurry glimpse of the Bronco Raptor.Ford

Being a tease, it's not surprising that we don't get a big, clear picture of the SUV. We can see that the Bronco Raptor's grille is different, with the Ford name spelled out in bold letters, just like the brand's other Raptor vehicles. We can also see that the Bronco's daytime running lights have shifted to orange.



Ford did not share any other details, but other Raptor models paint an enticing picture for the future hardcore Bronco. The SUV should get upgraded off-road suspension, brawny bodywork, and fat all-terrain tires. One of the biggest questions is what Ford will choose for the Bronco Raptor's powertrain. Two engines are currently offered for the standard Bronco, including a turbo-four and turbo-six. Rumors have pointed to the possibility that the Explorer ST's EcoBoost engine could make an appearance in the Raptor, which would bring up to 400 horsepower to the SUV. There may also be more than one wheel and tire option, which is the case for the upcoming F-150 Raptor, where buyers can choose to upgrade the stock 35-inch tires to 37-inchers.

There's no word on release date or pricing, but it's a safe bet that the Bronco Raptor will outpace its "normal" counterparts by more than a few dollars. Regardless of price, Ford should sell a ton of the SUVs, assuming it can keep up with demand on the production side.

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New American pickup truck

The new 2021 Ford F-150 is an all-around performer

The Ford F-150 got a complete overhaul for 2021.

Chris Teague

The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular vehicles of all time, coming in second only to the Toyota Corolla in lifetime sales. That makes the F-150 a vitally important model for The Blue Oval, so it's not surprising that it takes updates to the truck very seriously. That was absolutely the case with the all-new 2021 F-150, which sees a load of new tech, evolutionary styling changes, and an impressive new PowerBoost hybrid engine option.

2021 Ford F-150 A new hybrid powertrain option is a headline feature for the new F-150.Chris Teague

Ford offers the F-150 in a staggering number of trim, bed lengths, and powertrain options. Trims include XL, XLT, Lariat, Tremor, King Ranch, Platinum, Raptor, and Limited. Powertrain configurations include:

  • 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 with 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque
  • 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid V6 with 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque
  • 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 with 400 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque
  • 5.0-liter V8 with 400 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque

I spent a week testing the F-150 King Ranch with a SuperCrew cab and the new hybrid powertrain. Pricing for the base F-150 XL starts at just under $31,000, but my King Ranch test truck checked in at $77,125 after a $1,695 destination charge. That bottom line price includes almost $16,000 in options, such as a $1,995 King Ranch chrome package, a $1,495 twin-panel moonroof (worth it), a $1,005 FX4 off-road package, and more.

To find out if the new F-150 justifies its price tag, let's take a closer look at what makes it tick.

2021 Ford F-150 Though new, the 2021 F-150 sports familiar styling.Chris Teague

Powerful, efficient hybrid engine

Don't let the word "hybrid" fool you here – this is a serious powertrain. The PowerBoost twin turbocharged V6 and 35 kW electric motor produce a combined 430 horsepower and a whopping 570 pound-feet of torque, while a ten-speed automatic transmission pairs seamlessly with the engine and delivers smooth, almost imperceptible shifts. The hybrid setup feels a little clunky at low speeds, as the gas engine and electric motors trade off propulsion duties, but it's not a constant issue and does not detract from the truck's overall driving experience.

Depending on the configuration, the F-150 can extend to over 20 feet in length. It's also around eight feet wide, so there's no getting around the fact that it's not ideal as an urban commuter. Even so, the truck's quick, responsive steering makes it feel slightly smaller than it reads on paper, and it offers excellent outward visibility, which makes it less likely that you'll bump into, or run over, an unseen obstacle.

When equipped with the hybrid powertrain, the F-150 also comes standard with a generator built into the bed. A 2.4 kW Pro Power generator is standard, but the system can be upgraded to a 7.2 kW unit for just $750, which is a tremendous bargain in the world of generators. During the winter storms that ravaged Texas earlier this year, there were several reports of people using their new F-150s to power heaters, refrigerators, and other vital household systems while much of the state's power grid was down. Thankfully, my time with the truck was far less dangerous and dramatic, but the generator did get put to use charging my battery-powered chainsaw and tiller while helping a friend clear a small plot of land.

2021 Ford F-150 The new F-150 can be had with a giant 12.0-inch touchscreen.Chris Teague

User-friendly tech and an ultra-plush interior

I've always felt that Ford SYNC 3 was one of the best infotainment systems on the market, and the latest SYNC 4 software improves on that already successful formula. The base F-150 XL runs the system on an 8-inch touchscreen, but my King Ranch test truck came with an available 12-inch display. The screen itself is bright and responsive, and the software's simple, intuitive menu structure makes the whole package less distracting to use while driving. The system offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, HD radio, wireless smartphone charging, and the King Ranch I tested came with an options package that included an upgraded "B&O Sound System Unleashed."

If you had even a slight doubt that pickup trucks are really just lifted luxury cars with towing capabilities, the new F-150 will change your mind. The King Ranch trim comes with soft, exceptionally comfortable leather upholstery, and the front seats offer 10-way adjustability that allows the driver to dial in a near-perfect seating position. At this trim level, the front buckets come with heating and ventilation, but my truck came equipped with the $4,650 601A High package, which brings a massage function with a handful of different programs. It also adds a power tailgate, power-deployable running boards, a better B&O stereo, and 20-inch wheels. The options group is far from cheap, but after a few minutes spent being massaged at a traffic light, the price tag will likely feel like much less of an issue.

Ford stepped up the safety game with the F-150 for 2021. The truck now comes standard with the Co-Pilot360 package, which includes automatic headlights and high beams, a lane-keeping system, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and a rearview camera with hitch assist. The XLT trim and above come with blind spot monitoring and a reverse sensing system, and the King Ranch trim adds adaptive steering, adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, intersection assist, and navigation.

2021 Ford F-150 The King Ranch trim features an over-the-top interior with soft leather and premium finishes throughout. Chris Teague

Pricey, but worth the money

Full-size pickup trucks are excessive in many ways, but there's no denying that they are some of the most useful vehicles on the road today. My need for a pickup truck is limited, as I don't tow and rarely haul anything that a midsize SUV can't carry. The cost of a full-size pickup truck, both to buy and operate, is hard to justify for me, but for someone who truly needs a full-size pickup, the PowerBoost-equipped F-150 is a compelling option.

At 24 mpg all around, fuel economy is solid, and the refinement of the powertrain means that there's no operational penalty for choosing the hybrid. On top of that, towing capability climbs to 12,700 pounds when the truck is equipped with an optional trailering package. All of that adds up to an F-150 that earns its price tag and looks good while doing it.

2021 Ford F-150 In case you forgot which F-150 trim you bought.Chris Teague

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