Chevrolet Wants to Be More Like Ford

February 20th, 2014
2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150

Talk about being ahead of its time.

There’s nothing better for a company than introducing a new product so revolutionary that your closest competitor can’t touch it for about 4 years.

Even better is when the competition’s product chief wants to get his hands on your product and examine how it was done so it can be copied. That’s called hitting a home run.

That is what Ford has done to GM. It’s not a knockout punch by any means, but the blow has effectively left the General staggering and grasping for ways to catch up. Round 1 goes to Ford.

So does round 2, because all this has happened in the highly profitable and competitive truck market. While we will probably never have a complete Ford victory, we might as well declare a temporary victory, because it’s Game Over, at least for the next few years.

Ford recently introduced its aluminum-body 2015 Ford F-150 pickup. With a weight savings of around 700 pounds compared with the outgoing steel model, buyers are promised a more efficient truck that doesn’t compromise capability or strength. Competitors tried laughing off the use of aluminum, as Chevy chose to remain committed to steel and produce smaller trucks, and Dodge execs said Ford’s metal choice is “the best material to use for beer cans.”

Funny how quickly things can change. Automotive News had this to say:

GM has been working to put its full-size pickup trucks on a severe diet to meet future U.S. fuel economy standards and stay competitive with rival Ford Motor Co.

Mark Reuss, GM’s product chief, made no secret of his interest in aluminum when he saw Ford’s aluminum F-150 pickup at the Detroit auto show last month.

“I want to get my hands on it,” Reuss told reporters. “I’m going to be looking at how much aluminum is in it. ‘What are the panels? … How are they constructed?’ I’m going to look at what they advertise as the weight savings from it. Then I’m going to go back and do some math.”

The problem, though, is GM isn’t the only automaker suddenly interested in aluminum. To secure the metal, automakers have to place orders years in advance, and current estimates say an aluminum Chevy pickup won’t hit the market until 2018.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, aluminum-body full-size truck in the next couple of years, it looks like you’ll have one choice.

Well played, Ford.

Is Ford’s use of aluminum enough to get you to buy the Blue Oval instead of the Bowtie?

-tgriffith

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