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Ford: Let's talk aluminum

  • Executives and engineers from Ford (F -0.2%) are starting to hit the press circuit to talk about the advantages of using aluminum in the automaker's new trucks.
  • The 2015 F-150 truck will be the first mass-market vehicle with a body made mostly of aluminum. The move sheds close to 700 pounds from the F-150.
  • Consumer understand that gas mileage will improve with their trucks lighter, but need some convincing that the F-150 will be a tough as ever.
  • The new Ford trucks with aluminum will probably hit dealership lots in Q4.
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Comments (28)
  • Donald MacLeay
    , contributor
    Comments (52) | Send Message
     
    Shouldn't that weight reduction increase payload as well?
    10 Apr, 11:03 AM Reply Like
  • Seppo Sahrakorpi
    , contributor
    Comments (1948) | Send Message
     
    Yes, and towing capacity :)
    10 Apr, 11:36 AM Reply Like
  • Brice Mckalip
    , contributor
    Comments (122) | Send Message
     
    Makes sense, that'd be what would sell me on it.
    10 Apr, 12:11 PM Reply Like
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (351) | Send Message
     
    Brice, I think I get it. Its the old quantitative theorem. The lighter the vehicle, the greater the payload and towing capacity. That's why a rider on a Schwinn bike is able to pull an eighteen wheeler with no problem. I'm sold too.
    10 Apr, 04:22 PM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (3894) | Send Message
     
    Ace - that is a Straw Man argument and false logic.

     

    The simple math and physics matter is this. You have a truck that weighs 5000 pounds empty, with 10,000 pounds gross weight capacity. That leaves you 5000 pounds for payload.

     

    I have a practically identical truck with aluminum instead of steel panels, that weighs 4300 pounds empty instead of 5000, but still has 10,000 pounds of gross weight capacity. That leaves me 5700 pounds of payload capacity.

     

    5700 > 5000.

     

    QED.
    10 Apr, 08:40 PM Reply Like
  • bibol11
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message
     
    It was a joke. He made a point that light is not always better.
    15 Apr, 01:31 PM Reply Like
  • Blutopaz
    , contributor
    Comments (94) | Send Message
     
    ....an interesting start-up aluminum/auto stock is....NRBT....novus robotics......0.20 or so.......take a look.......BluTopaz.
    10 Apr, 12:31 PM Reply Like
  • heligator
    , contributor
    Comments (56) | Send Message
     
    For a stretch of time in mid-2013 I heard this ad on satellite radio for NRBT stock. Not the products/services/what have you, but literally just promoting the stock. I can't say for sure exactly when this happened but I remember looking at the price chart some time last year and thinking that it seemed like a pump and dump.

     

    I started hearing the ad again a few weeks ago. Just checked the price chart again.

     

    I think that's pretty ugly. Not touching with a ten foot pole.
    10 Apr, 09:36 PM Reply Like
  • pnutting
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Repair bills after an accident will be costly for aluminum, separate shop required
    . This could mean higher insurance rates?
    10 Apr, 12:36 PM Reply Like
  • fotocellar
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Most airplanes' bodies are aluminum. If it's good for something flying in the sky, it should be good for truck.
    10 Apr, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • bibol11
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message
     
    What happens when two aluminum planes crash together. Most of them die.
    10 Apr, 12:45 PM Reply Like
  • rotorite86
    , contributor
    Comments (59) | Send Message
     
    Is this a serious response? Are you comparing to planes colliding to two cars colliding?
    10 Apr, 01:01 PM Reply Like
  • heligator
    , contributor
    Comments (56) | Send Message
     
    I think he or she is saying that protection from a collision is irrelevant for planes but relevant for cars. Therefore the fact that planes don't have to "worry" about that makes the original comment inaccurate in his or her eyes; autos have this need which he or she perceives to be better met by steel than by aluminum.
    10 Apr, 09:42 PM Reply Like
  • bibol11
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message
     
    You are the one comparing airplanes to cars. Comparing aluminum to different type of products
    11 Apr, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • sdlombardi
    , contributor
    Comments (51) | Send Message
     
    They don't need less weight they need more weight. I've driven a Ford truck for more than 20 years. F-150, F-250 and an F-350 models. The problem with the recent weight developments is that they make the trucks too light and unsafe. We plow with our F-250 (and did with the F-350) and every fall we have to load over 700 pounds of weight into the rear bed to keep the rear tires on the ground and able to drive the front end with the plow attached. Last winter I tried plowing without the added weight and got stuck so much I had to add weight to the rear bed. When not plowing we still need up to 500# of weight in the rear bed. Otherwise the truck is all over the road and the passengers feel like they are seated in a jet flying through extremely bad air turbulence. Driving down I-80 you can't read or write while seated in the cab because of how much the truck bounces around. Driving is difficult and you feel every bump or change in the roadway. In my opinion this alone is a good enough reason to trade the Ford in for something made of steel. And if you think fuel savings will keep us buying aluminum trucks, think again. We are already buying fuel to drive at 10 mpg so what good is another 5 mpg when you lose it by having to add weight in the bed? Reducing the weight is counter-intuitive because then we will add 1,000 pounds to the bed. I suspect sitting in a boardroom provides little experience for anyone to understand what is needed to make a truck a good work truck. (Emphasis being the word "work".) Perhaps the Board (and the government) could gain a better appreciation by doing good old fashion manual labor. The Ford executives could learn a lot if they drove a truck and had to use it for work. They don't need less weight they need more weight.
    10 Apr, 12:57 PM Reply Like
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (351) | Send Message
     
    Right to the point. excellent post, sir. Indisputable.
    10 Apr, 04:26 PM Reply Like
  • sam026
    , contributor
    Comments (43) | Send Message
     
    Yep, and all pickup trucks are used to plow snow!

     

    Really, all vehicles should be made to work any worst case application without any changes to load balance. Get real.

     

    You want to plow snow after adding a couple a hundred pound plow to the front of the vehicle and you don't think you need to add balance weight to the back in the bed. A vehicle designed to do that would not be fun to drive on those non-plowing days. It would also use just a bit more gas during the summer.
    10 Apr, 04:52 PM Reply Like
  • Blutopaz
    , contributor
    Comments (94) | Send Message
     
    ....but you DO realize that MOST people dont PLOW....that is your choice, most people want gas economy and a strong vehicle. Aluminum does both, lighter and about 90% of steel strength. If you NEED to plow, then of course you load the bed, which is why a pickup has one......BluTopaz.
    12 Apr, 10:14 AM Reply Like
  • starcorral
    , contributor
    Comments (498) | Send Message
     
    Solid reasoning - but one can't violate the laws of physics. Car makers tried it for decades only to discover that chassis rigidity, suspension control,
    relativity of center of gravity and center of aerodynamic pressure, progressive or (better yet) active dampening, larger brakes for greater dispersal of heat and more efficient fuel burn make for a more controllable vehicle.

     

    I'm glad you plow with your F-250. The truck is designed for adding much more than 750 pounds for traction. When the plowing is over, you can remove the weight. How many passengers? How is the truck accessorized. What speed? What wind conditions? I think your truck and usage habits are unsusual.

     

    Ford's board has changed the F-150 based on extensive and aggressive solicitation of owner input. Your side lost. Learn a bit about physics and aerodynamics. While adding weight is important in special circumstances it can be accomplished with different ballast solutions. Unlike cars, trucks have a much higher ratio of gross vehicle weight and towing capacity to curb weight. This means that the owner bears the responsibility of equiping the truck for more extreme use.

     

    People want trucks that handle like cars; building a tank is not a solution.
    15 Apr, 03:21 PM Reply Like
  • ted lujan
    , contributor
    Comments (703) | Send Message
     
    Just load the new aluminum truck with old lead batteries. and it will do just as well as your old trucks.
    10 Apr, 01:05 PM Reply Like
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (351) | Send Message
     
    Great idea. And as a bonus, aluminum doesn't rust so we don't even care if the batteries leak. Ford could use this in one of their commercials.
    10 Apr, 04:28 PM Reply Like
  • Seppo Sahrakorpi
    , contributor
    Comments (1948) | Send Message
     
    Good read here:

     

    Car & Driver:

     

    "Will the Aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 Cost More to Insure and Repair? Here’s What Experts Are Saying Right Now"

     

    http://bit.ly/R6nWCb
    10 Apr, 01:11 PM Reply Like
  • royhammy
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Aluminum is three times as strong as steel per pound or kilogram also some of the rust issues may be eliminated. As for the negative aspect of light weight you have the freedom of adding weight as you need it and when you need it. Looks like a win win to me.
    10 Apr, 02:45 PM Reply Like
  • starcorral
    , contributor
    Comments (498) | Send Message
     
    I like reading what respondents (experts) have to say. Weight does not equate with stability - at least according the laws of physics as they apply in the contiguous 48 states. Secondly - Ford is trashing pickup trucks destroying frames, interiors, transmissions, drivetrains an brakes in unprecedented numbers. Load your current F150 to maximum bed load and towing and spend four days nonstop racing to the top of Bolder Dam and Back for 96 hours in unbearable heat. Drive on a surface of pure speed bumps at 60 mph for 96 hour in unbearable heat. Floor the throttle and hold it to the floor in neutral till the engine empties the tank while bumping off the rev limiter as many times as your heart beats in the same period.

     

    The testing protocol for the new F150s is totally assinined. The purpose is not to prove that it will stand abuse; the purpose is to prove that is in a class by itself; it is the destructive testing that tells people they better not plan of drag racing and panic stopping maxed out load capacities because they'll not outlast the truck.

     

    This is not a component war; it is a management war. We don't know what goes on in the board room by virtue of anything other than the finished product in practice. The boardroom bases profit potential on a product that will baffle it's owners with it's demonstration of seeming indestructability + the bonus of proving - in this case - that aluminum is tougher than steel.

     

    That last part... ...it worked out very well for the canning and bottling industry didn't it? Oh - did I mention the new base motor block is a special iron alloy which - given operational parameters - beats Aluminum in this particular application despite the optional motors all having much higher aluminum content.

     

    I make my money the old fashioned way: counting hours - not dollars
    10 Apr, 04:13 PM Reply Like
  • brintoul
    , contributor
    Comments (77) | Send Message
     
    I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say here.
    11 Apr, 06:35 PM Reply Like
  • In&Out
    , contributor
    Comments (64) | Send Message
     
    The reason F is changing to aluminum is too reduce weight..thereby allowing Ford to build more trucks without having to by government rules "CAFE" standards build more smaller cars than the market will bear....the weight reduction is a smart move when you want to "be allowed" to produce more of your very best seller. Government rules and regs "stink"...but our Government has the "big gun" He who has the biggest gun Wins....
    10 Apr, 10:13 PM Reply Like
  • june1234
    , contributor
    Comments (2626) | Send Message
     
    Don't drive in strong winds.
    11 Apr, 08:08 AM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3333) | Send Message
     
    "The 2015 F-150 truck will be the first mass-market vehicle with a body made mostly of aluminum. The move sheds close to 700 pounds from the F-150."

     

    That's why you don't listen to Wall St analysts about autos.

     

    They are clueless.

     

    The Audi A8 Has been all aluminum since 1997, body and unibody subframe/chassis included.

     

    There are more like the ACURA NSX since about 1991, but I won't bother going there now. (as the NSX prolly does not qualify as "mass Market")

     

    They should be focusing on who is going to absorb the extra cost, along with the cost/benefit ratio for the change.

     

    Think Gross margins.

     

    As a customer, I like it. How much more if any (vs the competition) I may be willing to pay for it, is the $4K question?

     

    A 3300 pound Corvette shaped like a missile with a manual transmission, running on 4 cylinders, struggles to get 29MPG hwy.

     

    How much do you really think an F-150 3X the frontal area, (shaped like a barn door) will really achieve?

     

    http://bit.ly/1d2ewfb
    14 Apr, 07:39 PM Reply Like
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