The Aluminum Ford F-150: Fact or Fiction?

July 30th, 2012

2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost

The Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 famously use aluminum frames and body panels to help the luxury barges achieve a low weight and improved fuel economy over their steel-wearing brethren.

In those vehicles, aluminum makes sense, and it’s probably the material of the future for cars in their class.

Fullsize American pickups, though, require something a little sturdier. American cowboys like their domestic workhorses because they’re tough, heavy-duty machines built with good old-fashioned steel. No pansy lightweight building materials like those Europeans are using.

Well, cover your ears cowboys, because the F-150 is going aluminum. Maybe.

According to an article in The Wall Street JournalFord intends to use aluminum for the body of its next-generation F-150. The move would come as a way to help meet ever-tightening fuel economy regulations. With aluminum, the WSJ says Ford could lop 700 pounds off the truck’s curb weight. Combined with more-efficient powertrains, that weight loss could result in a major 25 percent boost in fuel economy. On the other hand, aluminum costs much more and is harder to work with, which would translate to a higher purchase price and extra insurance costs.

Our friends at Car and Driver put together a list of reasons why they question Ford’s intent to actually follow through with the aluminum tease. They included the cost issues along with the potential for corrosion and questioned the public’s willingness to accept that an aluminum truck could be as strong and indestructible as the current steel rigs.

If we know one thing, though, it’s that Ford has already scored a victory that challenges preconceived notions about America’s trucks. Remember when the idea of a turbocharged V6 powering the great F-150 was simply ludicrous? Today, that EcoBoost engine lies at the heart of about 40 percent of all F-150s driven off the lot.

Should Ford use an aluminum body in its next F-150?

-tgriffith

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  1. Randy
    July 31st, 2012 at 09:17 | #1

    I thought Range Rover was using a lot of aluminum body panels too, aren’t they? These trucks are getting so expensive that use of aluminum isn’t prohibited (trucks carry big profit margins) although I think carbon fiber or fiberglass/plastic makes more sense for much of the body. Either way, trucks need to lose weight and gain fuel mileage to survive. As it is, I think the gas guzzler tax should have been extended to these trucks many years ago to help stop the image of the 90 pound blond crusing the malls in her 7000 pound Excursion or Escalade with only one person in the car. A $1000 per year surcharge to register the vehicle might also be an incentive for m’lady to choose to drive something smaller than a small house.

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