Ford is eager to demonstrate the toughness of aluminum when it debuts the newly redesigned F-150 pickup at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, and has solicited Alcoa, Inc. to lend them some of their military grade aluminum (used to make shields for battlefield vehicles) to prove it.
The basic idea behind the change from steel to aluminum is to reduce the vehicle’s weight and help it meet increasing standards for fuel economy in the US, which now requires automakers to achieve (fleetwide) averages of “54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.”
Similar mandates are also being seen overseas, including in the Middle East, where sales of the F-series have doubled since 2012.Overseas markets are introducing similar mandates, including the Middle East, where sales of F-Series trucks have doubled since last year.
According to Alcoa, “using aluminum in doors, hoods, and other parts of the body will allow automakers to, in turn, reduce the size of powertrains, fuel tanks and brakes, etc., while maintaining or improving driving performance and fuel economy.”
While Ford has yet to make an official announcement of exactly what it plans to unveil, industry insiders have hinted that in addition to the change in metals, the newly re-designed F-150 pickups will feature a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, as well as “ huge front end and thick chrome bars across a grille accented by narrow LED headlamps.”
The transition from steel to aluminum, however, may create a lot of unforeseen headaches for Ford, which expects to sell 750,000 of the vehicles next year, and must now however, may find that the transition from steel to aluminum may be more complicated than thought considering it will have to shut down its plants in Claycomo, MO and Louisville, KY for at least 6 weeks in order to refit them with new machinery and robots to “better handle the lightweight metal.”
Although Ford will unveil the new F-series truck to the media at special news conference on January 14th, the North American International Auto Show will be open to the public from January 18-26 at the COBO Center, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226. For more information call 313 877-8777.