Ford Goes All in On Aluminum – Gamble Grows
Prior to the first aluminum F-150 hitting the dealer lots, Ford is planning on using the new metal alloy in the rest of the their truck lineup. Ford is going all in on the new alloy. Will consumers follow?
When Ford introduced their new aluminum-based F-150, it was too such fan fare, you knew it was a big moment in trucks. Many, including myself, thought it was worth taking a shot and see how it worked out. Now, Ford isn’t waiting and is working on using the new aluminum alloy in their Super Duty trucks. It may also be the savior of their large Ford Expedition SUV. Using aluminum at this scale is a calculated risk. Going further with it before consumers have weighed in seems even riskier.
A recent article in Autonews.com talks about the growing activity in aluminum’s production and usage. This activity includes several aluminum production companies investing in new facilities and how all automakers are taking a second look at the product. It’s hard not to say Ford is/has causing a revolution in aluminum’s usage.
This usage is spurring the whole industry and a recent survey says 75 percent of trucks will be aluminum-based by 2025. The survey was conducted by an aluminum-trade group, so take the results with a grain of salt.
With that said, Ford isn’t waiting and is planning to introduce aluminum in all their larger products. It’s reported that some analyst think the F-150 will be the basic frame used for all Expeditions as well as the Super Duty, and that all will use aluminum bodies just like the F150 by 2017 (2018 model year).
There are three items here that stand out to us from the AutoNews.com story.
- The Expedition isn’t going to die. That’s shocking news to us, but we guess Ford can make it work. Part of us wonders if Ford just doesn’t want to give this segment to GM out of pride/spite.
Plus, CAFE regulations would seem to force Ford to give it up. Ford simply doesn’t sell a lot of cars or Expeditions to offset each other. Maybe the Expedition using aluminum-body panels will weigh substantially less AND will have better fuel economy. This could make it a better player in that segment.
- The Super Duty is going to use the F-150’s frame. Our question: is that a good thing for the F-150, or a bad thing for the Super Duty? For us, it sounds a lot like a design compromise that makes both trucks a little worse.
Heavy Duty trucks and half-ton trucks are engineered so differently that they are more like cousins and not brothers. It will be interesting to see how Ford plans on sharing platforms.
- The Super Duty is going all aluminum in late 2017. We guess that we’re going to see a whole lot of changes in trucks happen all at the same time. Future Detroit auto shows are about to get really, really interesting.
The fact is Ford has gone to great lengths to test their aluminum F-150 including many secret tests. We are just a bit taken aback by their plan to not wait until consumers have their say. It seems Ford is going all in on their gamble.
Filed Under: Auto News