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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 Novelis Inc., also noted that every automaker was forced to look at Ford's plans for the new F-150 and adjust their plans accordingly.
 
Aluminum maker Alcoa 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. 

Source: Detroit News



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RE: Hmmm
By aliasfox on 2/12/2014 12:05:23 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of what you said about carbon fiber can be applied to aluminum as well. Light and strong, but doesn't hold up well to impacts and difficult (if not impossible) to repair.

Steel has very good fatigue characteristics - it can be flexed back and forth without losing much of its strength, which is good for frames, springs, collision damage, etc. Aluminum weakens significantly after it's been deformed, which means one probably doesn't want to ride in a pre-crashed aluminum chassis car.

For the forseeable future, I see aluminum and CF mostly as body pieces. I hope to see passenger compartments out of CF in the near future though. While CF shatters on impact, it takes a lot more to shatter it than it would to compress steel, thus making it safer for the passenger cage - everything else can deform right up until the passenger compartment, but that needs to stay intact.


RE: Hmmm
By FITCamaro on 2/12/2014 1:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
We'll get to enjoy higher insurance premiums as a result.


RE: Hmmm
By TheEquatorialSky on 2/12/2014 3:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
Good comment, but I wouldn't want to ride in a pre-crashed anything...


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't the Mclarin use a carbon front end to absorb the impact of collisions? They had a block that crumbled as it hit something absorbing the impact if I remember correctly.


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