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Ford unveils new F-150, built mostly with aluminum: Will customers approve?

  • Ford (F) today unveiled its new F-150 with a body built almost entirely out of aluminum, which shaves as much as 700 pounds off the 5,000-pound truck, a response to small-business owners’ desire for a more fuel-efficient and nimble truck - and stricter government requirements on fuel economy.
  • It's a big risk: F-Series trucks - which include the F-150 and heavier duty models like the F-250 - have been the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. for the last 32 years, and Ford makes ~$10K profit on every F-Series truck it sells.
  • The 2015 F-150 goes on sale late this year; although aluminum is more expensive that steel, Ford says the truck will stay within the current price range.
  • Will customers accept the change? "Trucks are put to such hard use. They take bangs and dings and a lot of hard use," says a somewhat skeptical Kelley Blue Book editorial director Jack Nerad. "We'll see."
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Comments (53)
  • Vipertom
    , contributor
    Comments (169) | Send Message
     
    Hard to tell if the heavy user will accept, but the buyer who likes the ruggedness of a pickup truck but just occasionally uses the bed for heavy use, will probably appreciate the increase in fuel economy as a result. Don't think the towing capacity should be effected by the switch to aluminum.
    13 Jan 2014, 07:25 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    Towing will be affected for heavy users, as to take advantage of the lower weight, they are eliminating the 6.2L V-8 as an available engine choice.

     

    From a stock standpoint, they claim to be selling at the same price. What will that do to gross margins?
    13 Jan 2014, 08:02 PM Reply Like
  • marloo
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
     
    Lets have lightweight plastic work trucks made in America.
    13 Jan 2014, 08:05 PM Reply Like
  • Deja Vu
    , contributor
    Comments (1602) | Send Message
     
    After all they use aluminium in tanks right....oh wait, they don't...because aluminium is soft and deforms easily...

     

    Anyone know some good body shop stocks?
    13 Jan 2014, 08:05 PM Reply Like
  • JMajoris
    , contributor
    Comments (1361) | Send Message
     
    Depends on the grade used. Ever try and work with aircraft aluminum? Good luck with that!

     

    "because aluminium is soft and deforms easily..."
    13 Jan 2014, 10:23 PM Reply Like
  • SanDiegoNonSurfer
    , contributor
    Comments (4180) | Send Message
     
    Aluminum Alloys in Military Vehicles and Equipment

     

    "The First World War generated an urgent need for aluminum in several forms and for a variety of military applications. Germany, faced with shortages in iron and steel, employed aluminum in army tanks and industrial machinery."

     

    "Military requirements of combat vehicles establish their specifications for armor. The 5xxx series strain-hardenable alloys have been used in all aluminum military vehicles produced to date. The ballistic merit of these alloys relative to rolled homogeneous steel armor varies with the angle of impact. The 7xxx series heat treatable alloys provide improved protection at all angles. Because minimum weight for a given level of protection is essential to mobility, aluminum armor is used extensively in combat vehicles."

     

    "Completed vehicles may be used or stored for long periods under extreme conditions of temperature (-80 to 165°F) and humidity. Operations also include movements through corrosive waters. Armor material must retain its mechanical and ballistic properties, and resist corrosion under such conditions. Aluminum alloy armor provides the characteristics required."

     

    "Additional advantages offered by aluminum over steel are freedom from low-temperature embrittlement and greater rigidity, resulting from thicker sections, for equal protection. Increased rigidity, up to nine times that of steel, usually eliminates the need for secondary structural support."

     

    "The M-I02 trail-gun-type 105-mm howitzer, a lightweight weapon carriage for rough terrain, is fabricated almost entirely of aluminum. Fusion welded box sections of 5086-H32 sheet and 5086-H112 extrusions provide structural efficiency and low weight in the trail, body, and base assemblies. Several functional extruded tubes, such as those in the cradle structure, are 5086- H32 alloy. Forged 7075-T6 and 7079-T6 structural brackets support the trunnion and cradle; ground stakes are 7075- T6 forgings, hard anodized for abrasion resistance; wheel hubs are A356-T61 castings. With a gross weight of approximately 1.6 tons, the M-102 is by far the lightest 105-mm conventional gun yet designed. Transport by helicopter for maximum tactical effectiveness takes unusual advantage of its light weight."

     

    More where that came from...

     

    source:
    http://bit.ly/1ftoqMS
    13 Jan 2014, 11:45 PM Reply Like
  • TexasJeff
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    They don't on tanks, but they do on Humvees.
    14 Jan 2014, 10:13 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    Deja Vu may have just posted the most ignorant and incorrect comment of the year.

     

    Let's give that strip-club pussycat a big hand of applause for self-immolation.
    14 Jan 2014, 12:27 PM Reply Like
  • omarbradley
    , contributor
    Comments (964) | Send Message
     
    this thing will be a home run just like all the the other one's. they need to bring back the For Ranger as an all electric and eliminate the rest of the market once and for all. this ain't beach volleyball and it's time to move in for the kill.
    13 Jan 2014, 08:06 PM Reply Like
  • cbroncos
    , contributor
    Comments (1441) | Send Message
     
    This was revealed at the auto show today.

     

    Reyes says the company planted prototype F-150s with three companies — in mining, construction and power — for two years without revealing they were aluminum. The companies didn't notice a difference
    13 Jan 2014, 08:06 PM Reply Like
  • JMajoris
    , contributor
    Comments (1361) | Send Message
     
    How would they notice a difference? You can't tell from looking at them....

     

    "Reyes says the company planted prototype F-150s with three companies — in mining, construction and power — for two years without revealing they were aluminum. The companies didn't notice a difference
    "
    13 Jan 2014, 10:25 PM Reply Like
  • whysaduck
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
     
    If the bodies were noticeably more delicate than steel bodies the customers would have indeed noticed, it should go without saying.
    14 Jan 2014, 09:18 AM Reply Like
  • Engineer&Far
    , contributor
    Comments (141) | Send Message
     
    I think he meant in performance.
    14 Jan 2014, 10:58 AM Reply Like
  • Chic N Pautpi
    , contributor
    Comments (131) | Send Message
     
    I saw an earlier article today from some writer from Forbes who provided the false claim he heard from a body shop stating aluminum was a difficult repair metal requiring clean-rooms and special procedures. As a body shop owner and aluminum race car fabricator I broke out laughing at his incredible assertions.
    Aluminum is no more difficult to work and replace than the semi high-strength steels currently offered by OEM.
    Replacement panels will be factory E-coat primed ....as are their current steel replacement panels.
    1966 Ford GT 40 coupes and 1967 A C Shelby roadsters performed well with aluminum bodies...and I have no doubt these pickups will survive the critics.
    13 Jan 2014, 08:22 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3451) | Send Message
     
    Thank you for an informed comment.
    13 Jan 2014, 08:41 PM Reply Like
  • bdarken
    , contributor
    Comments (499) | Send Message
     
    In the North, with snow-salt everywhere, the alum parts may be a real sales pitch...
    13 Jan 2014, 10:18 PM Reply Like
  • marioforu@gmail.com
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    thanks for a change I really learned something on a comment board...
    14 Jan 2014, 06:33 AM Reply Like
  • rijensen
    , contributor
    Comments (1466) | Send Message
     
    Chic....In general I agree with you but there are a few "truths" in dealing with aluminum. You don't want to grind steel and aluminum in the same area. You can't tell temp changes from a torch by color. And most shops probably don't have much experience doing any type of volume. That being said I think that if you don't get up-to-speed on aluminum you will be out-the-door.
    15 Jan 2014, 10:46 AM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    Audi had to create a network of authorized (special training & equipt) unibody collision centers when it introduced the A8 in the US

     

    http://bit.ly/1dQwgtd
    15 Jan 2014, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    Nothing wrong with aluminum (provided the thickness chosen and alloy are good)

     

    Question is really only Cost/benefit ratio.

     

    And where do they recover the costs?

     

    Customers will get some benefit (don't know if they're willing to pay) in the way of a bit better city MPG.
    13 Jan 2014, 08:24 PM Reply Like
  • Tatertot
    , contributor
    Comments (144) | Send Message
     
    They'll make some up in higher prices due to better MPG and towing capacity, but I think they'll also eat some of it, as evidenced by their profit forecast for the year. If it works out though, it will be great for them as it really will help them throughout their lineup, but I think margins will be a bit compressed with this model to start out.
    13 Jan 2014, 11:35 PM Reply Like
  • Engineer&Far
    , contributor
    Comments (141) | Send Message
     
    The truck will also accelerate better, Force=Mass X Acceleration or A=F/M. Decrease the mass, and (for the same engine) the acceleration goes up.
    14 Jan 2014, 11:03 AM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    Truck will in fact accelerate and stop faster, especially noticeable while empty.

     

    But any HWY MPG will not be meaningfully enhanced.

     

    That being the case, are the costs and possible margin
    compression on Ford's most profitable product worth it?
    That's the big question.

     

    "Aerodynamic drag is the most significant contributor to vehicle power requirements above a speed of 50 mph."

     

    ----Cummins

     

    (see page 5)

     

    http://bit.ly/1d2ewfb
    14 Jan 2014, 11:09 AM Reply Like
  • Derek A. Barrett
    , contributor
    Comments (3534) | Send Message
     
    Aluminum is fine and just as strong without all the weight, and this is all perception and branding.

     

    Actually companies not using aluminum are behind the curve.
    13 Jan 2014, 09:13 PM Reply Like
  • riggle99
    , contributor
    Comments (213) | Send Message
     
    Because of the softness of aluminum, I'm sure we will see more replacement, rather than repair, of damaged body panels. This will raise the cost of repairs and likely raise the insurance rates on aluminum bodied cars and trucks.
    13 Jan 2014, 09:14 PM Reply Like
  • JMajoris
    , contributor
    Comments (1361) | Send Message
     
    I don't think so. Much depends on the grade of aluminum used in the manufacturing process.

     

    "Because of the softness of aluminum, I'm sure we will see more replacement, rather than repair, of damaged body panels. This will raise the cost of repairs and likely raise the insurance rates on aluminum bodied cars and trucks."
    13 Jan 2014, 10:28 PM Reply Like
  • Derek A. Barrett
    , contributor
    Comments (3534) | Send Message
     
    True but the counter to that is that the aluminum crumple zones can be designed to absorb much more energy and thus keeping it from transferring into the car's occupants.

     

    I will take an extra thousand to replace a bumper over a busted neck any day of the week.

     

    Also keep in mind in the old days race cars were built to be as strong as possible, but what this led to was the cars going unscathed but the energy transferring to the occupants inside. It's why a wood guardrail is often better than a steel guardrail, as when the car hits it, the rails break off and take the energy with them, instead of the car bouncing off of it.

     

    Tanks do the same thing now, they have reactive armor that will break off and take the impact of projectiles with them, protecting and sparing the rest of the vehicle and the crew inside.
    14 Jan 2014, 01:16 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    Rigg - Clearly you have never felt the business end of an aluminum alloy baseball bat, and your only exposure to aluminum has been with beer cans and the foil on the top of a TV dinner or under the turkey during Thanksgiving dinner.

     

    And as pointed out by others, collision repairs are miniscule compared to medical repairs. Fortunately with modern collision avoidance features that help compensate for utterly incompetent and inattentive drivers, and some sophisticated interior safety systems, both are addressed smartly in the F150.
    14 Jan 2014, 05:14 AM Reply Like
  • renog
    , contributor
    Comments (18) | Send Message
     
    Leaders lead!
    13 Jan 2014, 09:18 PM Reply Like
  • Buddy Canuspare
    , contributor
    Comments (400) | Send Message
     
    Additional benefit for customers living in salt country: Aluminum resists corrosion better than steel.
    13 Jan 2014, 09:26 PM Reply Like
  • jameskm03
    , contributor
    Comments (110) | Send Message
     
    Everyone will be doing this in 5 yrs. bet on it!
    13 Jan 2014, 09:43 PM Reply Like
  • JMajoris
    , contributor
    Comments (1361) | Send Message
     
    How could they not? Save 700 lbs? That savings never ends! Great move by Ford.

     

    "Everyone will be doing this in 5 yrs. bet on it"
    13 Jan 2014, 10:29 PM Reply Like
  • oaksleeksbeans
    , contributor
    Comments (151) | Send Message
     
    THe F 150 going Al.... and it is a good idea.

     

    So is it time to buy Alcoa?
    13 Jan 2014, 10:40 PM Reply Like
  • Javimanic
    , contributor
    Comments (263) | Send Message
     
    Ever since the Chevy Lumina APV vans that were plastic bodied I have fallen in love with non steel bodies. I live in Minnesota and a alumi truck sounds great. I love my now current sought after plastic bodied 07 Saturn Vue with the Honda v6 motor option-- it will basically last forever. no dents no rust Honda engine.
    13 Jan 2014, 10:44 PM Reply Like
  • huthutho
    , contributor
    Comments (314) | Send Message
     
    ...wish I still had my '59 Austin Healey BN4 100/6 with aluminum body panels!
    14 Jan 2014, 01:03 AM Reply Like
  • 123rainier
    , contributor
    Comments (8) | Send Message
     
    many semitrailers rolling down the road are Al, I do not see a problem ?
    14 Jan 2014, 06:18 AM Reply Like
  • StudeRanch
    , contributor
    Comments (18) | Send Message
     
    Aluminum has obviously been in use by aircraft manufacturers for many, many years while their planes have carried large loads & handled the stresses of flight. If Ford has conquered the cost factor of the alloy then more power to them!
    14 Jan 2014, 06:24 AM Reply Like
  • crankie
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    It'll be interesting to see if this will be another "new coke vs. classic coke" thing or not!
    14 Jan 2014, 06:27 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    This recalls that when Ford "softened" the lines of the '96 F150 for improved aerodynamics, they worried that some hardcore truck guys would consider the 10th generation F-series "too feminized". So they kept the previous version in production for several months as a "classic" edition as a hedge. It turns out the transition to the new smoother shape was much easier to stomach than expected, as the truck did the job better than the previous model.
    14 Jan 2014, 12:35 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    My recollection was the old body style continued on F-250/350 HD models until the release of the New Super Duty in 1998?

     

    There was even an F-250 (light duty) made on the then newer, streamlined version.
    14 Jan 2014, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • dapperdann
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    Truck should have faster 0-60 times too.
    14 Jan 2014, 06:34 AM Reply Like
  • 421347
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
     
    Aluinum in auto body panels is not new. My wife's 2000 Audi TT Roadster was aluminum. No corrosion, ding or other problems with the body in the Ohio weather. All this nonsense and negative talk and writing about supposed problems with aluminum is coming from writers and people who don't know a thing about what they are talking about or from competitor lovers. The aluminum being used is not the aluminum foil you can buy in the supermarket so relax and check out the facts.
    14 Jan 2014, 06:42 AM Reply Like
  • AllanHoltz
    , contributor
    Comments (30) | Send Message
     
    I think Aluminum would be great in Minnesota where I live. Alcoa DOES sound like a good buy.
    14 Jan 2014, 06:21 PM Reply Like
  • DGPharmD
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    LLVs (Long Life Vehicles) from the Postal Service have been using aluminum for years. The name of the vehicle should tell you how well aluminum holds up in bad weather and salt-covered roads.
    14 Jan 2014, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • dwetick
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    My '66 Austin Healey 3000 had Alum. body panels and no rust was ever seen on them (this is PA, salt capital of the East). Young Ford knows the future...and its Alum! $4-5 dollar gas is the driver.
    18 wheeler beds & wheels, coal car trains, boat building...you name it, Alum is the answer!
    21 Jan 2014, 09:13 AM Reply Like
  • Javimanic
    , contributor
    Comments (263) | Send Message
     
    when will more plastic bodied cars arrive?
    21 Jan 2014, 12:14 PM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    Saturn tried it. They tried, and died. After trying to switch back to steel with their last gasping breath.
    21 Jan 2014, 12:20 PM Reply Like
  • Javimanic
    , contributor
    Comments (263) | Send Message
     
    yes I know, I purposely sought out and bought the last year plastic VUE they made. With the Honda v6 motor option...best of both worlds. IMO.
    21 Jan 2014, 12:25 PM Reply Like
  • SanDiegoNonSurfer
    , contributor
    Comments (4180) | Send Message
     
    I'm waiting for the carbon nanofiber model myself. Might be a few decades....
    21 Jan 2014, 02:28 PM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    Well the latest softball and baseball bats (at least for youth, college and high school) and other similar things (tennis rackets, hockey sticks, etc.) come with those latest super-advanced carbon nano-fiber composites. But of course, at prices up to around $500 each, or essentially $250 a pound, it becomes "affordable", at least for wealthy, doting parents and grandparents indulging their whiny child who can't possibly be considered "cool" among teammates and opponents if he doesn't have one.

     

    Anyway a 5000-6000 pound truck though - would not be so practical. Maybe in one of those 200+ mph million-dollar Bentleys.
    21 Jan 2014, 05:43 PM Reply Like
  • AllanHoltz
    , contributor
    Comments (30) | Send Message
     
    3M makes alumina fiber reinforced aluminum for military applications (VERY pricey) and market viable electrical power transmission cable steel replacements so as to eliminate cable support towers in hard-to-build-in locations due to the VERY favorable strength and stiffness to weight ratios of the composite material. I would like to see THAT material's expanded use in automobiles and trucks. For awhile experiments in using it in brake calipers (70 pound weight reduction - don't remember if it was per caliper or per vehicle - but it was significant) was tried. But I have not been involved in 3M research now for the last 12 years, so I do not know what they are doing in this area - a lot, I hope!
    22 Jan 2014, 06:48 PM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (5742) | Send Message
     
    If the Cost to Benefit ratio in the value equation is superior to current conventional materials, you can bet the automakers (and maybe the sporting goods firms) will be all over it.
    22 Jan 2014, 06:56 PM Reply Like
  • Milhouse
    , contributor
    Comments (509) | Send Message
     
    Another alternative is hybrid plastic/carbon fiber panels. This is a sheet of carbon fiber sandwiched between two sheets of thermoplastic. Supposedly these panels have 70% of the rigidity of traditional carbon fiber panels, but are made in an automated process which reduces labor and costs significantly.

     

    Zoltec has been promising these panels for a couple of years now, but I have yet to see them implemented anywhere in the auto industry.
    22 Jan 2014, 07:25 PM Reply Like
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