Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

Next Ford F-150 To Get Aluminum Body For Better Gas Mileage

Follow Nelson

2013 Ford F-150 Lariat

2013 Ford F-150 Lariat

Enlarge Photo
Ford's history, while not founded on the F150 pickup and its predecessors, has certainly been built around it over the last 60 years. From its debut in 1948 to the present, the truck has evolved radically in design, features, and capability, but it has remained all-steel in frame and body. That's soon to change.

The next generation of the F-150 will get an aluminum body, shaving 700 pounds from its curb weight, in an effort to improve gas mileage. The 15-percent weight loss will be necessary for the truck, and the brand, to meet new fuel economy targets.

While total sales of the F-150 have been on the decline since 2004, the F-150 still constitutes 28 percent of Ford's total vehicle sales, and, as of 2011, has been the best-selling pickup for 35 consecutive years and the best selling vehicle overall for 30 years. Making a major change, like replacing the F-150's steel body with aluminum, is a big risk, but it could also pay big dividends.

The thirteenth generation of the F-150 is due in 2014, and with a typical seven to ten year production cycle, will have to carry Ford through CAFE requirements up to and perhaps beyond 2020. Accordingly, it's being designed to meet the 2020 targets from the outset, reports the Wall Street Journal, which translates to a gain of about 25 percent in gas mileage over the current F-150.

The question, for Ford and for F-150 buyers, is just how much aluminum, and where, it will be used. So far, Ford is playing its hand close to its chest, perhaps as much for purposes of competitive advantage against the likes of Ram Trucks, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Toyota, as for concerns over public reaction.

Aluminum use in the F-150 could present a number of challenges for Ford, including expense, production complexity, durability, and, of course, perception. The raw material itself is much more costly than steel, meaning that prices may go up and profit margins may go down, potentially harming both Ford's sales and profitability. Aluminum is also notoriously difficult to work with in comparison to steel, potentially increasing the cost of production further. Steel is also much more flexible than aluminum, capable of surviving deformation (dents, bumps, and scuffs) without cracking, buckling, or otherwise failing structurally.

All of these factors can influence the market's perception of the F-150, as pickup buyers, whether businesses or private individuals, won't want to see a rise in price accompanied by a perceived decrease in durability, even if it does bring with it increased gas mileage. Ford is cognizant of these challenges, and says it is designing the F-150 with durability and reliability in mind, as well as weight savings.

Ultimately, the next-generation Ford F-150 will be, at least in part, a so-called "compliance vehicle," built to meet the specifications of the law more than to accommodate buyer needs or company plans, much like some electric cars, such as the Honda Fit EV, Fiat 500 Elettrica, Ford Focus Electric, Chevrolet Spark EV, and the Toyota RAV4 EV.

While the "compliance car" mentality may not result in the vehicle buyers truly want, it may yield the vehicle the market--and the environment--truly needs.
Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (8)
  1. Body Shops REJOICE ! OMG ! An aluminum bodied pickup...what the hell were they thinking ? Lean on it the wrong way and you will have a dent. Wait until word of this get's out among those who actually USE a pickup for what it is intended. Insurance rates will go thru the roof on these things !
     
    Post Reply
    +1
    Bad stuff?

     
  2. The F150 has has an aluminum hood for years in case you didn't know.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. Body shops, in general, will not rejoice. Most of them don't have the facilities needed to repair aluminum.

    Aluminum does dent and crumple very easily ... when it's a soda can. One of the main reasons for using aluminum in vehicles (or anything else) is that it has a higher strength to weight ratio than steel. If you take two sheets of metal, one of aluminum and one of steel, with the exact same strength, you'll find that the aluminum is much thicker than the steel, but still much lighter.

    Ford isn't doing this so they can make a more easily dented truck. That would be stupid. They're doing it so they can meet fuel efficiency targets. The reason to switch certain steel parts to aluminum is to have the same strength with less weight.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. Have you leaned on Jag, an Audi, a Porsche?
    If we keep thinking old is better we would still have wooden wheels
    Aluminum stampings are work hardened and a more resistant to soft blows.
    The shear forces in an accident will cause more tears, but that's what insurance is for. Replace panels not repair.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. As I've said before, this b;ind need to keep the F-150 on top is the heap will one day fail Ford as times change so do people's needs. A Ranger-sized truck with a 3L diesel engine (which Ford builds and sells in 180 countries) would do a lot more for the economy needs of Ford and would at least keep folks in the Ford family. Now, with the perceived flimsiness of a partial aluminum truck, new sales may go to Toyota, Nissan and even the wretched Chevy Colorado.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. I agree as to what kind of reaction this will on bodyshop and insurance rates.
    To add to this will be the how much this will drive up the cost of the vehicle.
    This makes me wonder if Ford has really thought this through or is this just a knee-jerk reaction in a desperate attempt to meeting CAFE Standards?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  7. I have no doubt that Ford has thought it through, but meeting CAFE standards is exactly what's driving this. I can't see any other reason for it.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  8. I can't imagine that this will not have a negative effect on sales all things consider like total cost of ownership.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
New Car Price Quotes
Update ZIP
I understand that all data I provide is subject to your Privacy Policy and Terms. I consent to being contacted by dealers checked above by various means, including by phone at the number provided, email, text message, autodialing systems and/or artificial or prerecorded voice. Consent is not a condition of purchase.
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
Advertisement

 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.