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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 TheEquatorialSky on 2/12/2014 7:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Trailers, sure aluminum frame is fine. In the actual truck frame? No!


Many semi-trucks use aluminum frame rails. It's an option on the Freightliner Cascadia, which is the Toyota Corolla of over-the-road trucking.

Many cars have been designed with aluminum unibody frames, such as the original Honda Insight


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 2/13/2014 5:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, OK Frame rails, not the same as an entire frame. Big difference. Problem with Aluminum Frame Rails is corrosion between the rails and everything steel that mounts to it.

No, not many cars use aluminum unibody frames. The ones that do are highend or limited production. That is why the F150 moving to an aluminum body is such big news.


RE: Hmmm
By JDHammer on 2/13/2014 1:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
While we're at it, lets try titanium frame... ;-)


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 2/14/2014 2:21:17 PM , Rating: 2
lol, I wonder if Uncle SAm would subsidize it so the rich can buy them


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I want that.


RE: Hmmm
By TheEquatorialSky on 2/13/2014 4:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
In a ladder frame, the rails pretty much are the frame.

Aircraft and boats have used steel and aluminum together for close to a century. Galvanic corrosion is well understood and easy to mitigate.

My point was that cars have been designed with aluminum unibody frames for awhile now. It has never been a problem structurally.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 2/14/2014 3:01:37 PM , Rating: 2
Alright man, you're splitting hairs here. A Semi, aircraft and boats are way different than a f150 frame, or a car.

A few points here:

In Aircraft, weight is paramount, and therefore aluminum is ideal. Yeah they use steel/titanium where it needs to be and yeah corrosion control is a very tried and true practice. They also see a much much higher maintenance schedule than a consumer truck.

BOats? Again, different animal in how the frame/hull is built and how it endures stress. None of the boats I have are aluminum/steel framed. That would be just silly in salt water and damn near impossible to maintain. If you're talking much larger vessels, then sure, but again with the maintenance schedules.

Semi's with Aluminum rails have their advantages/disadvantages. The weight savings are pretty good and they're great for use in drier climates, short to mid length trips. The max load is or there is another compromise made when going with aluminum frames. Corrosion is a problem regardless and while they have many ways of combating this mounting steel axles, suspension, etc to aluminum rails accelerates the damage in in wetter climates. When you start getting cracks, you have tocut out and marry another piece of frame or replace vs a relatively simple repair with steel.

A car doesnt carry the load a truck does. The EV you pointed out used aluminum to counter the weight of the batteries, the corvette (Certain models)uses it but what weight other than the hooker and your golf clubs are you putting in that thing? No car using an all aluminum frame is a high production car. As I said before they're all highend and unibody. Again different animal than an F150 frame.

No rails themselves dont make a frame. I realize you have a hard on for aluminum and anybody that says no to an aluminum framed F150 or any 1/2 ton truck must be a hater but the simple fact is it would not be ideal. It would compromise the trucks capabilities, shorten the longevity of the truck, and significantly raise cost of purchase, and maintenance.

I think its great they shaved 700lbs off the truck. The panels are on avg 3 times thicker than the steel body t replaces to maintain the same strength. It's harder to dent but also harder to repair. FORd is spending $$$ to get shops certified to repair them. I do wonder how they are gonna control corrosion issues around the mounts between the steel frame and the body in the long term. They are treated and all that but those are always places where moisture like to collect. moisture plus disparate metals equals corrosion so I wonder how they deal with that. Unlike motor mounts, the rest of the body isnt exposed to the engine heat which dries them out and helps inhibit corrosion in those areas.

I have aluminum parts on my car. The hood is, while the rest of the body is steel. Other bits on the car are as well. If i upgrade a part and its aluminum or whatever, I am always sure to apply antiseize, or another barrier to keep corrosion at bay.

You can point to hand gliders next and I still wont agree that an F150 should have an alumnium frame. If it ever does, Ill buy used.


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
I completely disagree, the reason cars and light trucks are built out of steel is STRICTLY cost. When you want high performance you go with aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium, etc.


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Semi's with Aluminum rails have their advantages/disadvantages. The weight savings are pretty good


Weight savings in trucking translates directly to $$$$$$. More freight for the same gas or the ability to move more freight because you are restricted to overall weight.


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 2/15/2014 5:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Freightliner Cascadia, which is the Toyota Corolla of over-the-road trucking.


The toyota Coralla and the Cadillac of trucking, they are fantastic trucks all the way through.


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