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Body shops face huge costs to gear up and train for aluminum vehicle repairs

Mainstream auto manufactures have used aluminum in the construction of vehicles for a number of years. However, most of the panels on cars and truck were traditionally made from stamped steel, while in some cases hoods and trunk lids were made from aluminum.
With Ford rolling out the all-new F-150 that uses a body made 95 percent from aluminum, the future looks expensive for body shops charged with fixing vehicles after an accident. Reports indicate the costs of tools and training at body shops could soar.

The Aud A8 has been primarily constucted of aluminum for nearly two decades
That would lead to labor rates at the shops rising as well, leading to more costly repairs. Ford is blazing the trial into mainstream vehicles made mostly of aluminum, but other manufactures will follow. Making broader use of aluminum to reduce the weight of vehicle is one of the big ways that automakers plan to meet CAFE standards handed down by the White House.
Some body shops will have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in new training and equipment to be able to repair the aluminum used in Ford trucks. Smaller body shops might not be able to justify the cost, which could be a big benefit to dealer-owned body shops.
“Not every shop in America will be equipped to repair the new F-150,” said Dan Risley, president of the Automotive Service Association. “It’s cost prohibitive because there aren’t a lot of vehicles on the road with aluminum, so the return on investment could take a few years. When you throw aluminum into the mix, everything changes.”

The 2015 Ford F-150 will be the first mainstream vehicle to make wide use of aluminum throughout its body structure
He says that less than 20 percent of body shops will be equipped to fix aluminum body structures. Shops certified to fix high-end European brands like Porsche, Jaguar, and Audi cars that are used to working with aluminum will be the best ready to deal with the influx of new aluminum vehicles needing repairs.
Ford is not the only company that will employ extensive use of aluminum in full-size pickup trucks. General Motors announced last month that its next generation Silverado and Sierra will use the lightweight material.

Source: Detroitnews

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RE: No free lunch
By Solandri on 3/24/2014 3:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
All of those plants that generate electricity using hydrocarbons (Coal and NG) are MUCH more efficient at using that energy than a variable-speed internal combustion engine is.

Coal and NG plants are more efficient, but not much more efficient. You're talking about 45% for coal and 50%-60% efficiency for NG vs 30% for an ICE. The variable speed part mostly cancels out. Yes an ICE is less efficient outside its peak hp or torque range (depending on how it's tuned). But electric motors are also less efficient outside their best-tuned speed range.

The vast majority of the reason EVs are cheaper to operate than ICE vehicles is not because of efficiency. It's because coal is so much cheaper per Joule than gasoline.

A short ton of coal is about $60 and contains about 24 MJ/kg, or about 0.28 cents per MJ. Most of the cost to run a coal-burning plant is the equipment and personnel, not the fuel.

A gallon of gasoline is about $3.50 and contains about 120 MJ/gal, or 2.9 cents per MJ. An order of magnitude more expensive than coal.

If you don't believe me just look at Hawaii, which burns fuel oil for most of their electricity. That drives their electricity prices up to about $0.35/kWh vs $0.12/kWh for the rest of the country. The EPA rates the Tesla at $540/yr assuming 15k miles per year and $0.12/kWh electricity prices. Consequently the cost to operate a Tesla in Hawaii would be $1575/yr in electricity, which is the same as for a 33 MPG ICE vehicle at $3.50/gal.

An equivalent ICE sedan would probably get about 25 MPG. So the EV-ness of the Tesla only accounts for bumping it up from about 25 MPG to 33 MPG. The rest of the jump - from 33 MPGe to the 119 MPGe the EPA rates it at - is entirely due to coal being so cheap. (Or since I advocate using the inverse, the ICE sedan is 4 gal/100 mi, the Tesla is 3 gal-equiv/100 mi, and the EPA rating is 0.84 gal-equiv/100 mi. So 32% of the savings is due to the EV-ness, 68% due to coal being so much cheaper.)

RE: No free lunch
By superPC on 3/24/2014 9:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
Although I agree with you, remember that 25 to 33 MPG is an increase of 24% in fuel usage.

It all comes down to scale. 24% for a single person doesn't mean much. But for a whole country? How about for the rest of the world? In the past 30 years of jet aviation, fuel efficiency in jet engine only increases about as much ( ) but ticket prices has fallen by more than 200%. We now pay less for transatlantic flight than our father did even after inflation.

RE: No free lunch
By Mint on 3/25/2014 10:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
Hawaii is going to go completely solar very quickly with electricity prices that high. Even stationary battery storage becomes viable at that price.

Such markets will be the target of Tesla's gigafactory allied with Solar City.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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