Ford Engineers Subjected Mustang Mach-E to 300 Miles Of Stone-Chip Testing On Gravel Roads To Evaluate Damage Caused To Body Paint By Small Rocks And Cinder

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  • Are electric vehicles as durable as traditional gas-engine ones? Ford engineers conducted a series of specific torture tests on Mustang Mach-E to help give prospective customers confidence to take the leap to electric
  • From extreme car washes and power sprayers to robotic butts and gravel roads, the Ford team put Mustang Mach-E through stress tests designed to go beyond typical consumer use
  • Ford engineers used similar challenging tests as the Built Ford Tough F-Series pickups on Mustang Mach-E to help ensure it can handle the wear and tear of tough daily driving both inside and out

From the company that makes the Built Ford Tough F-Series pickup, America’s best-selling trucks for 44 years1, comes a new type of “electrified” toughness. This is the result of years of vehicle engineering testing know-how and aims to change skeptics’ opinions about how durable electric vehicles can be.

Enter the Mustang Mach-E, the 2021 Car and Driver Electric Vehicle of the Year. Ford put its first all-electric vehicle through similar torture testing to help ensure Mustang Mach-E can handle the wear and tear of daily driving, from extreme car washes and power sprayers to robotic butts and sharp gravel roads.

“We have gone to great lengths to subject Mustang Mach-E to extreme tests – stressing it much more than a typical consumer would – to help ensure it is ready to face the rigor of the open road,” said Donna Dickson, chief program engineer, Mustang Mach-E.

Wash at will

Nearly 27 percent2 of Americans are unsure if electric vehicles can get wet while being driven in the rain – much less be able to go through a full car wash. The team at Ford Michigan Proving Grounds used its onsite automatic car wash to show that the Mach-E not only can get thoroughly wet, but the exterior stands up to the abuse of consumer washes. Ford subjected the vehicle to 60 passes through a brutal, suds-free automatic conveyor wash complete with sprayers, brushes, and dryers – the equivalent of a wash every two weeks for more than two years. Mustang Mach-E can also be easily shifted into neutral, allowing ease of use for a washer conveyor.

To help test against leaks and other exterior damage that could be caused by water, the team blasted the door frames, trim, cowling, badges, headlamps, taillamps and adhesives of the Mustang Mach-E with a high-pressure water sprayer, capable of pressures up to 1,700 PSI and a temperature of 140 degrees and sprayed at a short distance of about one foot away.

Butt-tested

Ford tested for just about anything customers might subject their seats to – especially their derrieres. Ford engineers studied varying weight loads on the seats using a wide range of human body types by programing a robotic “butt” form to simulate a person getting in and out of their Mustang Mach-E – at least 25,000 times.

They also extensively tested the vehicle’s ActiveX seating material to withstand daily use and abuse. This included chemical testing to help ensure products like hand sanitizer do not deteriorate the material, abrasion testing to ensure the finish stays put after simulating a 10-year use cycle and flexing the seating material 100,000 times to assess its resistance to cracking.

In other words, the robot butt does all the testing so customers’ rear ends can rest assured that their ActiveX seating material in the Mustang Mach-E can withstand daily use.

Built tough for daily use

A cracked phone screen is never fun, but a cracked touchscreen – especially one with as much functionality as the screen in the Mustang Mach-E — is unacceptable. The 15.5-inch touch screen in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E uses a special application of Dragontrail glass to ensure its durability. It sits on top of a high-strength magnesium mounting that is able to withstand being pulled or bumped.

“The screen in the Mustang Mach-E is so crucial to the driving experience. It’s the centerpiece of the interior and people’s eyes just naturally go right to it,” said Dickson. “We knew we had to go above and beyond to make sure it is durable enough to withstand daily customer interactions — think purses and bags hitting it, pets bumping into it, children playing with it and so on. You need that deep customer understanding to identify the potential issues and work to prevent them.”

No stone left unturned

A Mustang is a wild horse and wild horses love the open road. Mustang Mach-E customers, likewise, can be confident that they can drive their pony where the pavement ends and gravel roads begin, and not come back with a new “speckled” paint job.

To do this, Ford engineers subjected Mustang Mach-E to 300 miles of stone-chip testing on gravel roads to evaluate the damage caused to body paint by small rocks and cinder. Ford used two different grades of gravel stones to test as professional drivers fishtailed Mustang Mach-E over a mile-long stretch of scattered gravel on the pavement at 60 mph nearly 200 times.

Once the first test was completed, the team then switched out the gravel with an even sharper grade of stone and repeated the test all over again.

“Electric vehicles shouldn’t be limited to nicely paved city streets and suburbia,” said Dickson “We tested Mustang Mach-E so that customers can confidently live on or adventure down gravel roads and not worry about their paint easily chipping.”  

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