Watch How Retooled Factory Makes Aluminum-Bodied Pickup
Ford has given the F-150 a dramatic makeover for 2015, switching to an aluminum body that helps reduce weight by about 700 pounds. Because the truck is dramatically different, Ford also had to change the way it makes the F-150, so we went inside its sprawling factory in Dearborn, MI, this week to see the Blue Oval's new manufacturing techniques in action.
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.
Knowing how the bacon gets made rarely entices us and, in the same vein, the same usually goes for knowing about how new cars get painted. But in both instances, however, quality – or a lack thereof – is instantly obvious. In terms of the latter, Ford is showing off its new paint quality process with 3D Dirt Detection Technology to find imperfections in vehicle paint more easily and more quickly.
Over the course of the next three years, Ford Motor Company plans to invest $850 million to retool seven of its Michigan plants. A significant portion of this funding will go towards engineering and producing Ford's new six-speed automatic transmission. By 2013, this six-speed auto, which is touted as one of Ford's most efficient trannies, will be available in every model in the automaker's lineup.
Two of Ford's vehicles are moving well enough that the automaker is adding production to its plants in Missouri and Michigan. Ford says its F-150 and Ford Escape are looking to earn their highest sales of the year in August, with the F-Series truck line looking good for its first year-on-year sales jump since October 2006 and the Escape knocking on the door of its own sales record. Of course, August sales number are expected to be wildly inflated by the success of the government's Cash for Clunk
Suppliers are the lifeblood of the auto industry, and as Ford can attest, little can be built without the parts produced by said partners. Workers at Ford's Dearborn truck plant were sent home yesterday, as a vital supplier's logistical problems left the plant without the needed parts to make trucks. Workers were told not to return to work until Thursday, which would leave Ford with about two days of lost production of its best-selling vehicle. Ford's Kansas City assembly plant has also been aff