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Print 54 comment(s) - last by mars2k.. on Feb 26 at 10:01 AM

GM plays catchup in the aluminum game

We’ve all heard about the 2015 Ford F-150 and the fact that its aluminum diet allowed it to lose 700 pounds. While the ladder frame of the all-new F-150 is still constructed of high-strength steel, 95 percent of its body structure made of “high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys” according to Ford.
 
So Ford has gone to aluminum to reduce weight and thus improve fuel economy. Chrysler has gone a completely different route by providing a new V6 diesel engine for the half-ton Ram 1500. So that leaves the industry looking to General Motors to provide a counterpunch in the full-size pickup fuel efficiency wars.
 
We are now learning that General Motors will take the Ford approach by using aluminum for the body of its next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size trucks. According to The Wall Street Journal, GM’s hand has been forced by increasingly stringent fuel economy standards (and of course market pressure from rivals).


2014 Chevrolet Silverado
 
According to the WSJ report, GM is partnering with both Alcoa and Novelis to supply aluminum sheets for its next generation trucks. As we reported earlier this month, Ford has already inked a deal with Novelis to supply aluminum sheets for its F-150.
 
“There’s isn’t an automotive manufacturer that makes vehicles in North America that we’re not talking to,” said Tom Boney, head of North American automotive business for Novelis, in an interview with The Detroit News. “Our customers will be making announcements fairly regularly over the next six years that will transform the automobile industry.”
 
GM last redesigned the Silverado/Sierra in 2013 for the 2014 model year.

Source: Wall Street Journal/Reuters





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Mistake
By dgingerich on 2/19/2014 1:24:04 PM , Rating: -1
Ford customers are already having problems with the fact that aluminum dents much easier than steel. People are getting dents in panels that a steel body panel would shrug off without even chipping the paint. Aluminum saves weight and all, but it's soft and malleable. Plastic panels would do better.




RE: Mistake
By SeeManRun on 2/19/2014 1:38:24 PM , Rating: 4
How is that possible? The truck has not been released yet. There are no customers with aluminum F150's yet.


RE: Mistake
By Chadder007 on 2/19/2014 1:40:13 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed....especially after having aluminum on a car myself.


RE: Mistake
By tng on 2/19/2014 2:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
Dents and dings in aluminum have to be treated differently by the body shop as well.


RE: Mistake
By Rukkian on 2/19/2014 2:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
especially after having aluminum on a car myself.

Just out of curiosity, what aluminum car did you own? I did not know there were any mainstream cars (maybe you had a specialty or custom car) that were made out of aluminum.

I do not have alot of experience with aluminum (especially the grade that Ford is using), so am wondering what kinds of issues to look out for. Not planning on buying one of these, just interested.


RE: Mistake
By Jeffk464 on 2/19/2014 2:48:49 PM , Rating: 1
Best one ever was that last model RX7, what a car. Aluminum body light weight and a turbo rotary engine for extreme weight to HP. Oh yeah, if I were looking for the ultimate classic sports car down the road I think I would grab one of these.


RE: Mistake
By Rukkian on 2/19/2014 4:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks, I had no idea. I never had (or really wanted) an rx7, so I didn't know.


RE: Mistake
By Reclaimer77 on 2/19/2014 4:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
The scariest/most fun I ever had in a car was a third 'gen RX-7 Turbo. Holy crap, what a blast.

Finding one not ragged to hell at this point, and keeping one running, is a whole different story :(


RE: Mistake
By Brandon Hill on 2/19/2014 5:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
The FD RX-7 did not have an aluminum body. I think you're recalling the NSX.

The FD RX-7 was extremely lightweight, but not due to aluminum.


RE: Mistake
By SAN-Man on 2/19/2014 3:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
Lots of them... my Lincoln LS has aluminum hood, trunk and fenders. That was 15 years ago.


RE: Mistake
By Rukkian on 2/19/2014 4:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
That is interesting that Ford is making a big deal out of it if they already had production cars with it.


RE: Mistake
By Brandon Hill on 2/19/2014 5:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
Making a few bolt on body panels out of aluminum is not the same as constructing the entire body structure out of aluminum.


RE: Mistake
By SAN-Man on 2/20/2014 4:29:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, parts of the unibody, ALL the suspension and steering components were also alum.


RE: Mistake
By sigmatau on 2/19/2014 9:33:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ford also owned Jaguar at the time when it was one of the first cars with a full aluminum body.


RE: Mistake
By mike8675309 on 2/20/2014 2:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
From what I can tell Jaguar sold about 20,000 X350's in 2003 which was the first year for the aluminum body. Last year Ford sold about 763,000 F150 pick up trucks. Whatever the scale of the process used for the Jag, I get the feeling it's a whole new ball game for the F150.

Note that Semi-Trucks and trailers are often skinned in Aluminum, and they can be ordered with Aluminum frame rails as well and have been for more than 30 years.


RE: Mistake
By SAN-Man on 2/20/2014 4:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, Ford has been doing this quite a while.


RE: Mistake
By kingmotley on 2/19/2014 4:08:34 PM , Rating: 1
The 2014 corvette body is made out of aluminum, but not the panels as far as I know.


RE: Mistake
By OutOfTouch on 2/19/2014 4:37:23 PM , Rating: 3
The Corvettes have had aluminum frames for years. Their bodies are fiberglass.


RE: Mistake
By TETRONG on 2/20/2014 12:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
Audi A8 employs an aluminium frame and body since about 2002


RE: Mistake
By Rukkian on 2/19/2014 2:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ford customers are already having problems with the fact that aluminum dents much easier than steel. People are getting dents in panels that a steel body panel would shrug off without even chipping the paint.


I think you may have that backwards, as their first production vehicle with an aluminum body has not been released. Are you actually saying that steel dents easier? Where are you getting your facts?


RE: Mistake
By Jeffk464 on 2/19/2014 2:54:22 PM , Rating: 1
Facts are such a pain when they get in the way of making a point.

The biggest gripe is ford's "military grade aluminum alloy" what the H is this suppose to mean? How many different aluminum alloys do you think are used in military vehicles? It reminds me of Chrysler's Corinthian leather advertising campaign.


RE: Mistake
By BRB29 on 2/19/2014 3:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
I drove plenty of military vehicles since I was in the military for a long time. I can definitely tell you about the very limited use of aluminum.

People claim these "military grade" stuff all the time. It's just marketing.

The military doesn't test that your aluminum or capacitors has to be made of blah. It has to pass the torture tests, the heat tests, the flammability tests, the durability tests, and the dirt tests. But these tests are for the product as a whole.

Seriously, it's all about purpose and function in intended scenarios. I've driven plenty of military vehicles and I have yet to see substantial use of aluminum.


RE: Mistake
By Reclaimer77 on 2/19/2014 4:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
So wait, the military-grade condoms I've been using are just marketing FUD? But it says right on the wrapper "strong enough to fu*k a Saigon hooker"!


RE: Mistake
By Solandri on 2/19/2014 6:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The military doesn't test that your aluminum or capacitors has to be made of blah. It has to pass the torture tests, the heat tests, the flammability tests, the durability tests, and the dirt tests. But these tests are for the product as a whole.

It's probably referring to mil spec. The different aluminum alloys all have a numerical designation depending on composition and how they're formed. The military frequently adds some additional requirements (most notably, anodizing) in the form of a mil spec.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_alloy#Alloy...

So yes it is just marketing, but it does require testing the material to make sure it meets the designated specification. Some of the military standards are for the product as a whole, some are for components (especially with a construction material like aluminum).


RE: Mistake
By FishTankX on 2/20/2014 11:34:29 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/news/news_detail.as...

According to Alcoa aluminum armor is in the bradley and humvee


RE: Mistake
By wookie1 on 2/20/2014 11:25:53 AM , Rating: 2
Hey, it was "RICH Corinthian Leather"!


RE: Mistake
By stm1185 on 2/19/2014 4:51:31 PM , Rating: 1
Dear Ford, please build me a Hammer out of the aluminum used on the 2015 F-150 so I can demonstrate to dgingerich how soft and malleable it feels.


RE: Mistake
By Jeffk464 on 2/20/2014 12:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
no joke dude or the duder soft hammers are pretty useful. Although normally you go with brass.


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