|Is aluminum the future of the Ford F150?|
|News - Collision Repair|
|Saturday, 28 July 2012 14:09|
By Mike Davey
Detroit, Michigan -- July 31, 2012 -- Reports that Ford is planning a Ford F150 with a “largely aluminum body” may have jumped the gun. An article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal reported that Ford is currently working on the truck and calls it “one of the biggest gambles in its 108-year history.” However, an article in the Detroit News reports high-level Ford executives as saying that those reports are premature.
It does seem certain that Ford is working on a way to reduce weight for its F150, primarily to meet tough new fuel efficiency standards coming into force in the U.S. in the next few years. What is not, certain, however, is how the automaker is going to do that.
Aluminum seems like an obvious choice. A higher strength-to-weight ratio means it is often the go-to material for automakers looking to reduce weight without sacrificing structural integrity.
That’s a lot of aluminum. While it has many advantages, aluminum is also very expensive compared to traditional steel. Utilizing a lot of aluminum in construction would almost certainly increase the price of a new F150, possibly reducing sales. It's also unlikely that the aluminum will be used in the frame. When it comes to strength by volume, steel is the winner. A pick-up with an aluminum frame would likely have to use so much aluminum that any gains would be minimal (not to mention incredibly expensive).
Then where will the aluminum be used? Pretty much everywhere in the body, if that 700 pounds figure is accurate. Deduct the frame, suspension, engine, controls, electronics and interior appointments from the typical F150, and not much is left. The 8-foot version of the F150's bed weighs less than 500 pounds, including the tailgate. Making that entire assembly out of aluminum would still only result in a weight reduction of about 250 pounds. If Ford really wants to reduce the weight by 700 pounds, the automaker may have no choice to go with an almost entirely aluminum body, "premature" or not.
There’s no word on whether the other trucks in the F-series will be redesigned as well, but it doesn’t seem likely. The larger trucks in the series do not have to meet the same fuel efficiency standards.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:26|
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