Ford's extensive use of aluminum in its 2015 F-150 is a big deal. A really big deal. Big enough, in fact, that General Motors is reportedly changing its fullsize pickup strategy. According to The Wall Street Journal, The General has locked in partnerships with Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. – companies that will supply aluminum for the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.

"Ford's introduction of the 2015 F-150 pickup truck was a game changer, and it's the first, not the last, conversion of this type," Novelis spokesperson Charles Belbin told the Journal. The switch to aluminum has allowed Ford to shave roughly 700 pounds off its fullsize truck's curb weight. And while official mileage ratings have not been announced, the weight loss should go a long way for improving efficiency, especially when combined other efficiency-minded improvements including better aerodynamics and new, turbocharged V6 engines.

Of course, aluminum-bodied cars are nothing new. But extensive use of aluminum in a major, best-selling product like the Ford F-150 is expected to kick off widespread use of this weight-saving material as availability rises and cost decreases. The WSJ reports that GM had originally explored the idea of moving to aluminum pickups back in 2008, but abandoned the idea due to cost concerns amid economic woes.

The General's next-generation, aluminum-bodied pickups are due to arrive by late 2018, so Ford would appear to have a massive head start.


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  • 148 Comments
      cpmanx
      • 10 Months Ago
      This is good news for Ford, and for the industry in general. Any body shop that was wavering on whether to invest in tools for repairing aluminum panels can now see that there will be plenty of business in future years. That will both ease early-adopter concerns for the F-150 and make aluminum a more viable option for other models.
      6BurgSteelr
      • 10 Months Ago
      How do the they know that GM is using the Aluminum to make bodies for their trucks? What is this based on? Just because they "lock in partnerships" with aluminum supliers, they MUST be using it to make aluminum bodied trucks. Like there is no other use for aluminum in trucks other than their bodies. Two recent interviews with people with REAL knowledge of the facts/situation dont say this. The Chief Truck Engineer Jeff Luke and the head of Global Product Development Mark Ruess even had some words contesting this move.
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        @6BurgSteelr
        Exactly. Wheels. Hoods. Support arms. I imagine they will downplay and even bad talk the move to aluminum just because Ford went that direction.
          Muttons
          • 10 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          They'll make a commercial and have Howie Long knock on the side of an F150 body panel and snarkily say, "Aluminum... it doesn't even rust! What kind of "man's truck" doesn't get a spot of rust here or there?" Cue Bob Seger music and Chevy trucks plowing through mud puddles behind waving American flags...
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
        Turbo_S60
        • 10 Months Ago
        So has Ford
        Jo
        • 10 Months Ago
        FYI - the F-150 has had an Al hood since the '04 MY. Not only that, but my '97 Mercury has an Al hood.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Jo
          [blocked]
      Master Austin
      • 10 Months Ago
      Some perceive that Ford is new at this. Ford has been doing aluminum body panels since the 1990s and have had a body panel or 2 in Mustang, Mark8s, LS. Its not new just not to the mass it will be at now. Any regular vehicle today has about 10% aluminum. Lighter weight on the F150 will allow for lighter components. Suddenly the brakes/suspension are smaller because less weight it's hauling around. Thats where Ford state they will recoup the costs for going aluminum. Ford already tested aluminum beds where they switched out steel ones to aluminum ones on some heavy duty contractors clients and they were none the wiser they were aluminum beds being tested and they passed easily. The 2.7L Ecoboost will add to efficiency as well. The question is, how much will GM have to spend to retro-fit a somewhat new product with aluminum panels. The secret is on the adhesive bonds where it touches steel. A rush job could lead to some bad results so hopefully they iron it out.
        cpmanx
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Master Austin
        Well said. The next-gen GM pickups will presumably use a modified version of the current frame, unless the company is ready to swallow a huge new capital investment.
      Dave
      • 10 Months Ago
      With the increasing CAFE requirements, this is no surprise. Ford grabbed headlines by doing it first, but it was almost inevitable that the OEMs were going to have to take some extreme lightweighting measures. If we look at the Cadillac ATS, for example, we can see that GM knows plenty about shaving weight with high strength steel, aluminum components, and other tricks. Switching over to aluminum bodies is a more extreme measure because it may raise insurance rates as well as MSRP.
      Rr778
      • 10 Months Ago
      Aluminum bodies lightening and rt10 please?
        carguy1701
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rr778
        I doubt we'll ever see a Lightning again. The Raptor outsold both generations combined by the end of its 2nd model year. Ford isn't going to shitcan it for something that won't sell in comparable volume.
          Greg Aryous
          • 10 Months Ago
          @carguy1701
          All new Raptor n Tremor / Lightning coming in next few years... Just give Ford time to get aluminum F150 out plus new SD Exped n Navi SUVs...
          vulnox
          • 10 Months Ago
          @carguy1701
          I agree that they probably won't do a lightning, I think the Tremor is the closest we are going to see for a while, and that isn't really a bad thing. If they keep that model around with the 700lb weight drop and the 3.5L, that should still be a super quick and still capable truck (the capable part is one area the Lightning gave up a bit if you wanted to use it for real truck duties).
        Rr778
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rr778
        AutoTypos but u can figure it out
      zepeda1
      • 10 Months Ago
      The question is will they change the styling by then so the trucks actually look different.
      Avinash Machado
      • 10 Months Ago
      Over to you,Ram.
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
        Aaron N
        • 10 Months Ago
        Here is a Ford fanboy coming in to make a GM hating comment.
        TopGun
        • 10 Months Ago
        Might be a protective move more than anything: 1. Last gen F150 was 200 lbs heavier than the GM trucks, so the weight defect isn't as large as many think - it's a 500 lb weight advantage - at a cost premium that is still undetermined IIRC. 2. Market reaction to aluminium is not yet determined - will it be accepted? Who knows at this point. 3. GM has two pronged strategy - for those looking for fuel efficiency, enter the Canyon/Colorado - these are 900 lbs less than a Silverado…which would make them 400 lbs LESS than the new F150. And that is also on a smaller footprint - which may also be an advantage.
          JaredN
          • 10 Months Ago
          @TopGun
          With the upcoming CAFE standards, GM has to make its light duty pickups more efficient. They have no choice. The same is true for the other manufacturers.
      John
      • 10 Months Ago
      BWAHAHAHAA! Ford really pantsed everyone with this one. There won't be enough aluminum capacity for the competition to catch up for years. A total Chess Master move!
      groingo
      • 10 Months Ago
      More US Monkey Monkey do innovation with GM bringing up the rear as usual.
      Ryan
      • 10 Months Ago
      All the GM fans who were bashing Ford for going to aluminum are going to feel pretty silly now.
        Bandit5317
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        I'm a GM fan and I have no idea why anyone would be against going aluminum. It's more expensive to repair, but it's lighter and will never rust.
          TopGun
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Bandit5317
          You gave yourself one reason - it's more expensive to repair. Another reason - the market acceptance from that segment is not determined yet. Sure, a Jag, or Audi, or LandRover buyer might accept aluminium easily, but an F150 buyer? Not sure about that. And let's not forget that even a 2% loss in share here is a big number.
          Bandit5317
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Bandit5317
          @yonomo200 Any piece of aluminum which is exposed to air will immediately have an oxidation layer form on top of it. That's why it's so hard to weld/solder. However, this oxidation layer actually protects against any further corosion and doesn't cause corosion itself. So it won't rust.
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