Aluminum F-150 Sends Ford Competitors Rushing to Ink Aluminum Supply Deals
February 12, 2014 9:46 AM
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Ford's move to aluminum in top selling vehicle puts pressure on competitors to find their own aluminum supply
Ford has made a serious move to reduce the weight of its incredibly popular F-150 truck through the use of aluminum. The 2015 F-150 uses so much aluminum that it has
shed 700 pounds, and 95% of its body
is now made from the lightweight material.
Not only does lighter weight mean better fuel economy, but it will also mean better performance and greater towing capacity as well.
“There’s a very simple reason for it [weight reduction]: CAFE,” said General Motors Co. spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin, referring to the U.S. government’s tough new fuel economy standards. “Every gram you can take out of the vehicle, it helps with fuel efficiency.”
2015 Ford F-150
With Ford making such a huge move with its top selling F-150, its competitors are now left rushing to sign their own agreements with aluminum suppliers. Since the F-Series trucks sell in such huge numbers, Ford’s appetite for aluminum in the industry will be unmatched (and it has already locked up much of the automotive-grade aluminum sheets available on the market for the F-150).
Tom Boney, head of North American automotive business for
, also noted that every automaker was forced to look at Ford's plans for the new F-150 and adjust their plans accordingly.
is also boosting production with new plants in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to prepare for the increased adoption of aluminum in the automotive world.
Competitors are going to be significantly behind Ford in moving their [volume] trucks and cars to aluminum. They will not only have to redesign their vehicles but will also need to secure an adequate supply of aluminum and invest in retooling factories to make the body panels from the aluminum sheets.
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2/12/2014 11:28:35 AM
Yeah I wouldn't go all crazy thinking our pop/beer cans are going to have a higher deposit rate all of a sudden in EVERY state trying to scrounge as much aluminum back into the supply chain as possible.
Many other manufacturers could use hydro-form extruded aluminum for the frames and make the body panels out of dent resistant recyclable plastic like Saturn did.
That combination is probably more economical, better weight saving, and just as environmentally friendly if not more so.
2/12/2014 11:41:12 AM
High strength steel will still heavily be used. Most cars of the near-term future will likely be a composite of materials.
I think VW is being the most innovative/practical in developing new technology. The Lupo 3L is a great example of optimizing conventional construction methods. The conventional steel unibody was selectively strengthened with high strength steel while non-structural panels and some parts were made in aluminum and magnesium. The Up Lite! concept car will be the "three box sedan" of the future. It's built like the Lupo, but with greater use of high strength steel and carbon fiber composites.
Cars will get more advanced, but they'll also get more expensive. An increasingly lower percentage of the population in Western societies will drive as time goes on. It's called "progress."
2/15/2014 5:26:08 PM
Uh, cars are already a composite of materials. Nobody uses steel engine blocks or transmission housings anymore. Many cars use also use aluminum in suspension parts because dropping unsprung weight is key to ride quality. Aluminum wheels are pretty much standard on most models of cars and the interior is all light weight plastic. What they really need is a scratch resistant material to replace glass.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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