Ford is making a big bet on aluminum with its new 2015 F-150, and it's possible that the decision will hurt the company financially, at least in the short term. After earning a record $8.6 billion in 2013, the Blue Oval does not expect to set another record in 2014. According to Automotive News, that's "largely attributable to F Series," says Bob Shanks, Ford's Chief Financial Officer.

To retool for the new F-150, Ford will idle its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan for 11 weeks and the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri for 2 weeks. "3 of the 13 overall weeks occur during what normally is our summer shutdown timeframe," said Mike Levine, Ford Trucks Communication Manager, in an email to Autoblog. The extra 10 weeks will be preparing for the more aluminum-intensive construction for the trucks and will mean over 2 months of no F-150s being made. For comparison's sake, Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne just confirmed that the 200 plant in Sterling Heights, MI will be down for 30 days to retool for the new model, but obviously there are many more F-150 production variables than for the midsize sedan.

Levine notes that Ford is already running three shifts at both plants, and says the automaker has plans to ensure that there is adequate supply of the full-size pickups during the retooling process. The company does not want to suffer a shortage of the vehicle that accounted for 31-percent of its 2013 US sales and an even bigger percentage of its profits.

However, in its just-released 2013 financial report, Ford admits that the F-150 changeover will "result in lower wholesale volume than in 2013." It will also have to put discounts on remaining models to get them off of dealers' lots. According to the report, "Ford also expects higher manufacturing, engineering and spending-related costs to support the launches."


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  • 40 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 10 Months Ago
      Short term loss for long term gain.
      John
      • 10 Months Ago
      This is a common situation for automakers. Any time a new body is released you have the "waiters" who wont buy a first model year vehicle. Then you also have the people who don't like the new body style and search out the last body style instead. It's just a fact of the car business.
      Walt
      • 10 Months Ago
      A little pain now, eliminating some of your competition later. Bye bye Tundra and Titan!
        mylexicon
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Walt
        Ford is hoping that they have price leadership because they are the undisputed volume leader in the light-duty truck segment, and they are hoping CAFE will force everyone to follow them. If Dodge, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Toyota respond by lowering the obscene price of steel trucks. Ford could be alone on an island. The F-150s 28mpg hwy (estimated) would be really impressive, but it might not be enough to persuade buyers, if they can get a 4x4 crew cab for $30K elsewhere.
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
        GFB
        • 10 Months Ago
        Correct. Talk about corporate profits mean nothing to the average car/truck buyer. This is just Wall Street talk. The stock market may devalue Ford for a while but that only creates (stock) buying opportunities. If investors want to "sell high" because Ford is investing in its future, someone - perhaps those same investors - will be there to "buy low" after the selloff and they will watch their portfolio grow. It's good to see Ford investing in the future of its top moneymaker. Now it's time to see them do something about getting poor Lincoln established in the next highest profit-margin market, luxury cars. They are so not there yet.
        Dean Hammond
        • 10 Months Ago
        BIG TIME!
        Johnny Trailerpark
        • 10 Months Ago
        The first reasonable comment i've seen on Autoblog in awhile.
      WindsWilling
      • 10 Months Ago
      Good on Ford. They're they shining star in "American Automakers". Making some brilliant strides again, just like they did when they addressed the trash quality interior refinement that plagued American cars/trucks for decades. You can't rely on Dodge or especially GM to do this, Dodge doesn't have the resources (money and tech) at it's disposal, and GM is just incompetent and still a decade behind other makers without signs of evolution.
        John
        • 10 Months Ago
        @WindsWilling
        ChryCo now has plenty of resources at it's disposal and it shows. Just take a look at the UConnect system or any of the latest redesigned interiors. ChryCo is really making strides.
      FatManChew
      • 10 Months Ago
      So instead of fix or repair daily they're simply going to just recycle?
      DJ_Swammi
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm really curious about the claim Ford will need to discount remaining 2014 models in advance of the 2015 launch. While I could see a scenario like that, I can easily imagine a scenario where people are clamoring for the outgoing steel-based model who want to get the last of a known commodity, and driving up prices on 2014s. It just seems like there's a big fear of the new at the moment, and people may pay extra to avoid "alumin-angst."
        BipDBo
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DJ_Swammi
        I'd bet there will be more people who wait for the new aluminum design than are afraid of it.
          waetherman
          • 10 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Texans fear change. Except climate change, of course. They aren't afeared of that at all.
        Neez
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DJ_Swammi
        trust me, there will be a few people averse to the aluminum design at first. But after the first year as long as there are no problems, and the crash ratings do well. The general population won't care, they'll only see the mpg figures on the window sticker. However, i think ram and titan diesels are going to take alot of marketshare away from GM and Ford. But GM will take quite a bit back with their midsize colorado considering it actually makes sense to buy a midsize truck again. Ford however, i don't think will retain marketshare unless they can get this truck to at least 25mpg with their ecooboost 2.7L and weight savings.
          graphikzking
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Neez
          PLEASE BRING ON THE MID-SIZE TRUCK WARS! If Ford brought back a decent ranger (what did the sell the old one for 20 years without an update while they update the F150 every like 2-3 years and complete overhauls like every 5-6?) I just bought my dada a Tacoma because there wasn't a decent domestic option for a small truck. He wanted a pickup but didn't want a huge truck. He wanted something he could park easily in a smaller spot, take to the airport parking garages easily, and fit into his garage. He is basically using the truck for small errands such as mulch, 2x4's and the occasional small tree or plywood and drywall. He didn't want or need a large truck even though a larger truck is darn close to the same price he just didn't want it.
          Dean Hammond
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Neez
          sorry, Ram and Nissan especially wont make a dent, those diesel engines are pretty costly, even then, if Ford feels the need the 3.2 from the full size Transit is already federalized.....as for the Colorado, Im curious for sure, and Im quite sure Ford and Ram will be watching its numbers...and again, if deemed necessary ford has the Global Ranger....funny how different the American market is to the rest of the world.
        Beebe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DJ_Swammi
        I will most likely be buying either the 2014 or 2015 depending on the price. If they don't seriously discount the the 2014 vs 2015, then it's unlikely I would get the 2014. I don't think many people will hold out for the older model. Not a lot of people opted for the heritage back in 04. And I imagine many of those that did regretted it as the new 04 was a homerun and huge improvement over the previous generation with no major issues I ever heard of. They say not to buy a vehicle in it's first year, but I would take a chance with ford's most important vehicle.
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 10 Months Ago
      As a sign maker this all alum isn't all that great. Many many companies use magnetics on their trucks. If they can't do that they will buy steel.
        John
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        I honestly don't see this as a huge hurdle. At dealerships we use Magnetic plates... oh well. Times are changing and I would rather have to vinyl the truck than have to replace bedsides in 5-7 years thanks to the Ohio weather. Also, most HOA's that are that anal tend to not allow trucks to sit overnight in the driveway anyways. Then again, screw HOA's, I refuse to ever belong to one.
        KaiserWilhelm
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        Let's not make a lighter and more efficient truck because it will inconvenience sign makers!
          Cool Disco Dan
          • 10 Months Ago
          @KaiserWilhelm
          Thats not what I said or implied. Are you always this intellectually dishonest?
        icemilkcoffee
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        Or vinyl signs?
      Greg Aryous
      • 10 Months Ago
      Ford is in a Strong position with Aluminum because... They have Alan Mulally as CEO with years of engineering n aluminum experience at Boeing and industry connections to pull this off...!!! They have 2 plants making F150 - Detroit n K C with just Detroit being down 10 weeks this year and they are adding inventory of F150s before they shutdown Plus they announced. 55,000 increase of F-series Siper Duty production so Ford should hold their marketshare Consider what the MPG could be for 2015 F150: Add 2 mpg for 700 lbs wt loss Add 1 mpg for improved aero dynamics Add 2 mpg for 2.7 V6 EcoBoost You could improve from today's 23mpg to 28 mpg Add 2 mpg for 10-speed auto in 2 years Then you get the magic 30 MPG Plus all the added features and exclusives and it is going to be tough on competition... For years!!!
      johnnyhedwardsjr
      • 10 Months Ago
      It's worth it for their bread and butter product.
      Arturo Rios Jr.
      • 10 Months Ago
      Ford has not been afraid to go above and beyond when it comes to their trucks, this has the other manufactures chasing Ford's tail. It feels like yesterday when the Tundra came out with those commercials putting the F150 down, yet the Tundra is nothing but a rebadge Dodge now a days.
        mitytitywhitey
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Arturo Rios Jr.
        If the Tundra were a rebadged Dodge its mpg would be better.
        superchan7
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Arturo Rios Jr.
        Wait, Toyota rebadges Dodges now? Where have I been?
        Walt
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Arturo Rios Jr.
        You're closer than you think with your re-badged Dodge comment. Toyota engineers disassembled a Ram truck in a warehouse outside of Seattle to come up with the current generation Tundra.
          EXP Jawa
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Walt
          Everybody disassembles and studies everybody else's vehicles during product development. I guarantee you that GM had a Boss302 LS on hand when they came up with the Z/28. Nothing new here, its referred to as "benchmarking"...
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 10 Months Ago
      Three names: Alcoa Rio Tinto Alcan Rusal
        Cool Disco Dan
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        Love AB where stating facts and giving out the names of companies that rule the alum market gets you a down vote.
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