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Ford Banking on Aluminum for F-150

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On: Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 10:00AM | By: Karen Cook

Ford Banking on Aluminum for F-150

Ford began making its iconic F-150 series way back in the late 40’s. It has been the best-selling truck in America for 37 years and Ford’s best-selling vehicle overall for 32 years. The company counts on this product for strong sales and profit and buyers count on it for handling tough jobs dependably. Ford has come up with an idea to make it even better. With the recent focus on fuel economy and the new standards associated with it, automakers are getting more creative. When your top vehicle is heavy truck creativity must be stretched to the limit.

Ford’s idea depends on aluminum. Before you get a picture in your head of a large rolling beer can I should tell you that the aluminum Ford will be using is provided by Alcoa, Inc., which is where blast shields for battlefield vehicles come from. By using this lighter than steel product Ford can cut the F-150’s weight by as much as 750 lbs. With body parts such as the hood and doors made from aluminum the engine doesn’t have to be as large to move the vehicle. This means the fuel tanks, brakes and power train can also be smaller. Currently the smallest available engine in an F-150 is a 3.5 liter Ecoboost. Aluminum will allow for a 2.7 liter Ecoboost engine.

The new fuel economy standards being put in place will require that trucks in the US have an average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. The industry as a whole has a long way to go. Ford’s current mpg for the F-150 is 23 on the highway. With the new body and smaller engine components they are projecting something closer to 30 highway mpg. They are also developing a 10 speed transmission which will boost fuel economy even higher.

This will not be an easy transition and will require about 6 weeks to retool the machinery at each of its plants. This will include a new assembly line process, some completely new machines and new or reprogrammed robots. They are hiring thousands of workers to make the reinvented F-150 a reality.


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