Be on the Lookout for More Aluminum in New Trucks and CarsAccording to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, Ford is may use a much greater amount of aluminum in its next generation of F-150 pickup trucks. With the price of gas at ever-climbing levels, and the government's push for tougher fuel economy regulations, manufacturers are looking for ways to make engines as fuel efficient as possible, and one way to do that is to significantly reduce the weight of trucks and other vehicles.
A Few Downsides of Using Aluminum in the Auto IndustryAlthough using more aluminum to build a vehicle is one way to lighten its weight, there are valid concerns associated with the product:
- Aluminum is more expensive than steel -- a higher build cost means an automaker either raises the price of the trucks or make less profit per truck.
- Aluminum requires dedicated tooling and, in sheet form, is not as strong as steel.
- Aluminum also creates issues for body shops, because the same tools should not be used when working with both steel and aluminum. Steel filings and dust can contaminate the aluminum and create corrosion issues that will continue even after the painting process.
- Many people have the perception that aluminum is fragile and easy to damage, so Ford will have to change that mindset in order to win-over it's F-150 customers. After all, they do refer to the F-150 as Ford Tough.
Those issues do not signal that aluminum can't be used more widely to build trucks. Ford is currently using cast aluminum for the front suspension control arms, and sheet aluminum for F-150 hoods.
Other Auto Manufacturers Have Built with AluminumOther automakers have been using aluminum for years. Just a few examples are Land Rover, which has used aluminum body panels since it began building vehicles in 1948; another British automaker MG, used aluminum door skins and some hood (bonnet) and trunk lid (boot) panels; and the famous Cobra, which had an all aluminum body.
In more recent years, aluminum has been used structurally in cars, including Jaguars, and Jaguar might have played a part in Ford's decision to try an aluminum pickup truck -- the automaker owned Jaguar when the use of that metal was being developed and put into production. Ford probably learned a great deal about the pros and cons of running an aluminum-build production line.
Tell Us What You Think About Ford's Rumored PlansWould you be inclined to buy a new Ford F-150 if you knew it had a lot of aluminum body panels and structures? Use the link at the bottom of the page to let us know what you think about the potential of a pickup truck built with more aluminum.
A Look Back at the History of Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1948-1952 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1953-1956 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1957-1960 F-Series F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1961-1966 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1967-1972 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1973-1979 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1980-1986 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1987-1991 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 1997-2003 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 2004-2008 F-Series Pickup Trucks
- 2009 F-Series F-Series Pickup Trucks
More Ford F-Series TrucksPictures of Restored Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks
Important Dates in Ford Truck History
Ford Truck Advertising Memorabilia
Pictures of Vintage Ford Trucks, beginning in 1918
My First Ford F-Series Truck
Ford Enthusiasts Tell Us About Their First F-Series Pickup Truck
Tell us About Your First F-Series Truck