Aluminum: Best for Beer Cans or Trucks?

Did it collapse like a beer can?

Did it collapse like a beer can?

News of Ford’s use of aluminum in the body of the new F-150 shook the auto world in 2014. Some saw it as a revolutionary step in the evolution of the pickup truck, while others mocked the decision as an expensive experiment that would end poorly.

Competing brands touted the strength of steel and took issue with the high cost and questionable durability of aluminum. In an interview with Car and Driver, Michael Cairns, vehicle line executive for Ram, said,

It’s the best material to use for beer cans.

Burn! It was pretty clear back then that Ram didn’t think aluminum belonged in large pickup trucks. In the same article Cairns continued,

Seriously, we’re all looking at weight reduction and fuel improvements. We utilize aluminum in hoods, control arms, and steering knuckles, so it can be effectively used. But it’s expensive. And we worry about dent-resistance and longevity. It’s good, but we’re getting a much bigger return in economy through powertrain efficiencies and aerodynamics. Widespread use of aluminum at this point may be a little premature.

Ford believed otherwise and took a huge gamble by using aluminum, but sales haven’t suffered, and the F-150 remains America’s best-selling vehicle. Now it has another major bragging right: The new truck is even safer than the old one.

CNN Money said,

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its top rating to the 2015 F-150 Super Crew, granting it five stars for both the frontal and side impact tests and four stars for the rollover rating. The previous model got an overall rating of four stars, and only three stars for the frontal crash.

The 2015 F-150 is the only truck with an aluminum body. The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra also scored 5 stars in crash testing, while the Ram 1500 lagged just behind with 4 stars.

Aluminum has so far delivered on increasing fuel economy and providing a safer environment for occupants. It’s probably just a matter of time before Ram tests a version of its own.

Does its aluminum body make you more or less likely to buy a new F-150?


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