There's no doubt that Ford is taking a risk in producing the body of its upcoming new F-150 pickup truck in aluminum. What is up for debate, however, is whether aluminum was a wise risk to take in the first place. Wards Auto took the opportunity to poll some experts on the subject of aluminum versus steel in the automotive sector, with somewhat unsurprising results.
Richard Schultz, a project consultant at Ducker Worldwide, which bills itself as "a leading aluminum industry consultant (though they also deal in steels), suggests that the potential drawbacks to aluminum – higher costs, lower supply – aren't really impediments to the auto industry's increased acceptance of the lightweight metal.
Similarly, Randall Scheps, global automotive marketing director for Alcoa, a massive aluminum producer, counters claims that aluminum is less safe for vehicle occupants, suggesting that the use of aluminum can actually increase safety as it could potentially allow for larger vehicles with more crush space than steel.
Craig Parsons, president of Nanosteel, a company that produces a high-strength steel product, has other thoughts. "I think technologies like nanosteel are going to give automakers alternatives to aluminum so they can do lightweighting with better geometries and thinner materials," he told Wards. Parsons also questions the capacity of the aluminum supply chain.
So, the experts in their respective fields seem to be divided along company lines. What about you? Do you think the use of aluminum in the F-150 gives Ford a big advantage over its rivals in the pickup truck segment? Have your say in our informal poll below.
|I'm not sure.||3457 (18.7%)|