According to The Wall Street Journal, Ford intends to utilize aluminum for the body of its next-generation F-150. In order to meet tightening fuel economy regulations, the WSJ says Ford will turn to the lightweight material, which could cut curb weight by a whopping 700 pounds. Working in tandem with more efficient powertrains, that weight loss could result in a whopping 25-percent boost in fuel economy.
But not so fast, suggests spokesman Said Deep. In regards to the reported aluminumization of the F-Series, Deep tells The Detroit News that "It is premature to discuss specific approaches or solutions that we might use for future product," a quote, we note, that is not necessarily an outright denial.
Industry analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics points out that while some F-150 components are already aluminum, it is also a tougher material to work with. "Full-aluminum structured vehicles are much more expensive to insure because they are much more expensive to repair." Not only that, Hall notes, but not every body shop knows how to work with aluminum. Thus, it's unsurprising to learn that the original WSJ report suggests only that the next F-150's bodywork may be rendered in aluminum, not the chassis.
While there may be manufacturing hurdles in switching over to aluminum, perhaps more difficult will be determining its impact on sales. The F-150 is one of the industry's perennial best-selling vehicles, and it's uncertain how diehard truck buyers might react to a move away from steel, particularly if it sends costs upwards. Of course, Ford recently took on another pickup buyer taboo and registered a resounding victory – challenging the long-held notion that full-size buyers won't buy anything other than a V8 in real volume.