The #Ford F-150, the best selling vehicle in Canada and the best selling vehicle in the U.S. for almost 32 years, is about to experience a major change. Ford is introducing an #aluminum F series at next month's auto show in Detroit.
Ford's marketing has a big task ahead, as it strives to convince consumers that aluminum is strong and safe, having more in common with Humvees than beer cans.
Aluminum, which is lighter than steel, is used in combat vehicles. Ford has asked Alcoa Inc, which makes aluminum blast shields for battlefield-bound vehicles to supply some of it's military grade metal materials for the auto show. Alcoa supplies super-strong grades of aluminum to the military, and other grades of the metal to the automotive industry.
The aluminum truck is expected to be the most significant debut at the show, as Ford reinvents pick-up trucks as we know them. The company is also working with General Motors to develop a 10-speed transmission. Ford began building the F-series in the late 1940s.
The switch to aluminum will allow Ford to reduce the weight of the F-150 by as much as 750 pounds, helping the company to meet fuel economy regulations. The rising standards require manufacturers to achieve a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Similar standards are being enacted around the world, including in the Middle East, where F-150 sales doubled last year. The new F-150 will achieve fuel economy numbers around the 30 mpg mark, up from the current model's 23 mpg.
Aluminum is being used by automakers more frequently, if not body parts, than in components such as fuel tanks and powertrains, improving fuel economy and driving performance.
The complicated switch to aluminum will cause each of Ford's two F-150 production plants to shutdown for about 6 weeks while being retooled.
Next year Ford will introduce 16 new or refreshed models in North America next year, the F-150 their most important. The new aluminum F-150 is expected to hit dealerships in the second half of 2014.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca