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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 TerranMagistrate on 2/12/2014 2:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. For those of us that like to hold onto our vehicles until the wheels fall off so-to-speak, this is a huge boon with improved fuel economy being a nice little perk on the side. The amount of salt they dump on the roads here in Northeast Ohio is ridiculous and the rust is difficult and cost to stop once it starts.


RE: Hmmm
By Solandri on 2/12/2014 5:45:12 PM , Rating: 3
If you're hoping aluminum body panels will withstand road salt better, I wouldn't hold my breath. When dry, aluminum forms a protective layer of aluminum oxide which protects the aluminum from further corrosion. When wet, the aluminum oxide which forms doesn't bond with the aluminum - it simply floats off into the water. Aluminum boat parts still need sacrificial zinc anodes just like steel and brass. Paint is still your best protection.


RE: Hmmm
By TerranMagistrate on 2/13/2014 12:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
Well then, I am disappoint.


RE: Hmmm
By ppardee on 2/13/2014 2:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
Soo... You're saying that we can soon have anodized aluminum car frames? I want mine in purple, thank you very much!


RE: Hmmm
By TheEquatorialSky on 2/13/2014 4:10:51 PM , Rating: 3
Honda Insights have been on the road for more than a decade and they've stood up to road salt better than conventional vehicles.

Aluminum stills corrodes like steel, but it is much less susceptible. Thousands of aluminum aircraft are still flying 70+ years after being built. The skins are covered in high purity aluminum in a process known as Alclad, forming a strong oxide layer. How many unpainted 70+ year old steel cars are still structurally sound?

Primering will certainly help, but I think you're selling aluminum a little short. Cars generally don't swim in the ocean. :)


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, and Ford is not the first there is already a track record for aluminum cars. The unbelievable bad assed mazda rx7(largely because of aluminum) the jag, and the range rover. The fact is using lighter materials produces superior cars.


RE: Hmmm
By fishman on 2/13/2014 6:20:44 PM , Rating: 2
Plenty of large yachts that are sailed on the oceans are made of aluminum and the topsides are left unpainted.


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When wet, the aluminum oxide which forms doesn't bond with the aluminum


Most scuba tanks are aluminum and painting them isn't even necessary. You can't find a more harsh environment then that.


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