Ford Denies Aluminum F-150 in the Works

2013 F-150 Lariat front
2013 F-150 Lariat shown

It's no secret that all the half-ton truck makers are sweating bullets as the calendar ticks closer and closer to the government's 2025 deadline requiring fleets to meet the aggressive 54.5 mpg corporate average fuel economy.

To do that, we know some very interesting strategies — and likely very expensive strategies — will need to be used.  

Of course, using lighter metals, as we've mentioned in earlier stories, is the low-hanging fruit for many truck engineers. Pickups like the current Ford F-150 and 2013 Ram 1500 take advantage of aluminum body panels. Other strategies in the truck-making mainstream have included extensive use of composite materials in pickup beds — Toyota Tacoma, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Avalanche, to name a few — and more sophisticated use of high-strength steel and more high-tech design work in some of the more traditionally heavy pieces of the suspension and frames.

None of this well-documented history kept the Wall Street Journal from suggesting that the new F-150 will extensively use aluminum to cut the necessary weight from the truck — somewhere between 700 and 800 pounds — to meet the stricter fuel economy regulations of the next 10 years. Never mind that just using a lot of aluminum would probably be a horrible choice for a work truck, or that the added cost and volatility of worldwide aluminum pricing could keep customers away.

No doubt all the major companies will have to use stronger, lightweight materials such as graphite composites, magnesium alloys and high-strength steel (as well as aluminum). But to suggest a vehicle that is likely to do some kind of hard commercial or family-fun work is a better choice to use softer metals  — rather than a single-purpose passenger car or high-end sports car — seems to be a pretty big misunderstanding on how certain vehicles are used and what makes the most sense.

A better guess might be that the personal-truck-use segment might be headed for more downsizing, even for full-size pickups, and that assumes gas prices continue to head toward the "danger zone," which some analysts don't see hitting until gas prices surpass $6 per gallon. 

This morning Ford called the Wall Street Journal's suggestions "premature." The company said it is looking at many ways to reach the 54.4 mpg target by 2025 and that a fully aluminum pickup truck is likely to have many things working against it. One expert in a Detroit News article, documenting Ford's refute, said there would be significant extra expenses in designing, building and repairing any vehicle that uses a lot of aluminum.  

For now, it doesn't look like we'll get an all-aluminum truck anytime soon, but we can expect more experimentation in certain suspension, frame and body panel components, looking for the right balance that keeps the strength but loses the weight. 

 

Comments

I think its time we elect some new officials, we don't need the government telling us what to drive. This is going to sky rocket prices on new vehicles.

Since 2007, GM has been using aluminum hoods and tailgates in their hybrid full size SUV's. What Ford talks about doing in the future, GM has already been doing.

@Joe
The hood on the current F-150 is aluminum.

Many truck enthusiasts will not like this but all trucks, unless they are being used by workers for work purposes, should be shrinking in size instead of getting bigger and bigger. Todays's Toyota Tacoma Double Cab is the same size as a Full Size Chevy or Ford from as little as 5 years ago. Chevys, Rams, and Fords have grown in size and weight to the point of instead of just being able to pull a trailer, they all feel that they need to be able to pull a building off of it's foundation and drag the building down the street. Enough is enough. I do not need a truck the size of Texas to make up for my "shortcomings" I am just fine. If trucks are to make the mandate, easiest way is to go on a diet: lose weight by losing inches and un-necessary gadgets. Trucks are a tool to work; not how exotic my wood is or the thickness of the leather or the platinum man step built in the tailgate that is 6 feet off the ground. Gas is and will continue to increase in price and I for one will not purchase a truck that is getting to the point; it's drivers will have to have a CDL license to be able to drive one. I demand a smaller truck to pull my Jetski or trailer when necessary. I don't want or need a Freighliner or Peterbuilt to do this. In this analogy, Bigger is not always Better. For everyone else, you can buy what you want; just expect that gas will get more expensive and don't complain that your 18000 pd truck will only get 6 miles per gallon. Have a good day!

Joe,
Try 2003.

http://tinyurl.com/fordaluminumhood

One more thing to thank the Left for to bring this country down one more step!!!

I agree. I think everything will need to get lighter and maybe even smaller including the things we tow like trailers and toys. Those needing big and heavy will have to option up to larger rigs.

We'll have it made again if we can one day figure out cold fusion.

@Phil the Tacoma is has gotten bigger but the 150s/1500s have gained weight not room .

2003 xlt supper crew short bed 4x4 4.6l
Width: 79.9 in.
Height: 76.9 in.
Length: 226.2 in.
Front track: 65.4 in.
Rear track: 65.4 in.
Wheel base: 138.8 in.
Curb weight: 5005 lbs

2008 xlt supper crew short bed 4x4 4.6l
Width: 78.9 in.
Height: 75.5 in.
Length: 223.8 in.
Front track: 67.0 in.
Rear track: 67.0 in.
Wheel base: 138.5 in.
Curb weight: 5420 lbs

2012 xlt supper crew short bed 4x4 5.0l
Width: 79.2 in.
Height: 76.7 in.
Length: 231.9 in.
Front track: 67.0 in.
Rear track: 67.0 in.
Wheel base: 144.5 in.
Curb weight: 5886 lbs.

As you can see on the 3 comparbly equiped trucks the 2003 wieghs the least but is wider and taller than its sucessors but has a narower track it is longer than the 2004-2008 but shorter than the 2009-2012. the biggest differnce is in weight and laot of that has to do with occupant protection. These trucks have to wheigh more to better protect their occupants and still haul more and get better fuel economy. the driving force behind the wieght is safety.

2011 Tacoma 4x4 5 ft bed double cab
Width: 74.6 in.
Height: 70.1 in.
Length: 208.1 in.
Front track: 63.0 in.
Rear track: 63.4 in.
Wheel base: 127.4 in.
Curb weight: 4155 lbs.

2003 Tacoma double cab 4x4
Width: 70.3 in.
Height: 67.5 in.
Length: 202.9 in.
Front track: 57.5 in.
Rear track: 57.3 in.
Wheel base: 121.9 in.
Curb weight: 3705 lbs.

so it looks like the tacoma is still smaller in every way to an 2003 f150


Lets look at one more

1996 f150 eddie bauer extended cab 4x4 4.9l
Width: 79.0 in.
Height: 70.8 in.
Length: 219.1 in.
Curb weight: 4186 lbs.
Wheel base: 138.8 in.
as you can see full size pick ups have been pretty consitant in size Tacomas have grown. but all these vehicles gained 1000lbs between 2003 and now.

aluminium will not hurt sales. Pete's are aluminium and no one shys away from them.

Trucks like the Tacoma have grown but they needed too, the old little trucks were unsafe, not to mention the interior of a Tacoma is still kinda small I'd say like Corolla size, wouldn't want to go any smaller or loose any more confort.

@ Phill I agree with you that I would like to see smaller trucks, but the government has no business dictating any of this or trying to require commercial driver's licenses to force people into certain vehicles. The best solution is to get the government completely out of mileage mandates and let people buy what they want. If everyone wants gigantic trucks then great, gas will probably increase in cost to $5-$6 / gallon, then people will move into smaller vehicles. No central planning needed.

I have to wonder why so many of you are saying that our Government is dictating the size. To the best of my knowledge the only thing they're dictating is the mileage--and, of course, the safety.

@Joe and @Scott
My 1999 F150 had an Aluminum hood. Ford F150's have had Aluminum hoods since 1996 when the 1997 model came out. Some guy tried to tell me it was fiber glass because a magnet didn't stick to it. I told him try and stick a magnet to a beer can...lol

Actually ford uses plastic hoods

@Vulpine
I think they're saying that the government is dictating size in a roundabout way by mandating mileage requirements that could necessitate smaller pickups. By the same token, one could say the government is dictating higher prices or smaller engines.

I've never agreed with CAFE standards because it is an economically inefficent way to reduce fuel consuption, the publicly stated goal of CAFE. Raising the exise tax on fuel (which has remained unchanged since 1997: 18.4 cents per gallon on gas, 24.4 cents for diesel) would be more effective in bringing more fuel efficient vehicles to market (since consumers would demand more fuel efficient vehicles in the face of higher fuel prices), while allowing for the existence of "gas guzzlers" should the market support them.

As Carilloskis has pointed out, it is a myth that current trucks are much bigger dimensionally than their older counterparts. They have gotten heavier due to the proliferation of mandated safety equipment.
Making trucks lighter will improve MPG figures in stop and go traffic type situations but I doubt they will have significant effects on MPG for highway use. Aerodynamics play a bigger role at speed.
I don't know why people are afraid of aluminum. It all depends on where it is used and how it is shaped. Many dirt bikes and sport bikes have aluminum frames, forks, handle bars, swingarms and engines and hold up well to extreme abuse. I've never heard of a guy complain about frame flex or fatigue on MX bikes or sport bikes but have heard complaints on steel framed cruisers.
Aluminum is used in the trucking industry. You see aluminum tankers ect. but also aluminum gravel boxes.

Might as well build them out of cardboard. The pot-belly, suburban cowboys commuting to work in 10 mpg trucks that never do any real work, while yelling along to Hate Radio, won't know the difference.

Here's to higher MPG and less dependence on a fuel that supports corrupt regimes abroad, corrupt oil companies at home, and global warming everywhere.

Bring on small, lighter trucks! Strip out all the "conveniences" so real men can do real work with a truck...the only reason to own one.

If America can put a man on the moo..oh, we can't do that because we lack the will. Never mind. Buy a 10 mpg Hemi and stand tall for the US of A! If you can stand with that pot belly.

The front lower contol arms on the raptor ar Aluminium, as are the fox shoks, wheels, skid plates, and hood. front fenders are Fiberglass, so lots of Al but not to much.

I think we should let the market decide ill make another point involving crash safety angle of aproach.

2011 fx4 Crew short bed 4x4
Angle of approach: 23.8 degrees
Angle of departure: 22.8 degrees
Ground clearance: 8.3 in.

2008 fx4 Crew short bed 4x4
Angle of approach: 26.0 degrees
Angle of departure: 25.3 degrees
Ground clearance: 8.1 in

2006 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab 4x4
Angle of approach: 25.4 degrees
Angle of departure: 27.5 degrees
Ground clearance: 8.6 in.

2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab 4x4
Angle of approach: 15.8 degrees
Angle of departure: 22.0 degrees
Ground clearance: 9.0 in.

THese trucks have comparable wheel bases but look at the aproach angles, that is all about fuel economy. GM had to put a more aroe dynamic bumper to beet fors in MPGs and ford did not lower their front as bad and developed better motors to increase FE. get rid of cafe so chevy can be taken off road again.

SOme FYI
2012 chevy equinox
Angle of approach: 14.8 degrees
Angle of departure: 23.2 degrees

thats right one degree less than the silvarado and a better departure angle.

Does any body now question why Raptors sell so well? people who need to take a truck on dirt roads have no other choice the Ford raptor has almost twice the aproach angle at 30.0 degrees compared to a silvarado this is great, that is why i left chevy for ford.


@Vulpine
They are dictating size, under CAFE fuel economy is base on "footprint" of a vehicle.

Another fuel killer on your pickups is the shape of them and the cross section dimensions across the front.

It's really funny that the rest of the world is achieving what you guys can't. Why is it so hard, maybe it your manufacturers and mindset.

When the economy of the mismanged "freeworld" finally moves forward, gas prices will go to levels that will scare you guys and alot of your trucks will sit in your driveways.

Aluminium is a good metal, but expensive to use. I would opt for 3 litre diesels in your 1/2 tonners rather than pay the cost of aluminium.

I do see global trucks gradually replacing your trucks, with small diesels. 90% of your 1/2 tonners aren't used, they are just daily drivers.

Some info on a British Ford Ranger.

http://www.topgear.com/uk/ford/ranger/verdict

If I was a psychiatrist I could have a lot of clientele just from this site.
Calm down folks! I don't care what they experiment with just maintain the trucks capability and up the fuel mileage in the mean time.
We are a demanding consumer here in the States so go with the flow.
I really don't care who gets credit either, Ford, GM or Ram.
In the mean time invest in Alcoa stock. LOL

@Big Al,

I would love a Ranger wild trak it meats my needs verywell TDI: check , seating for 5 :check manual:check, electronic locker: Check. It also has a better angle of aproach and water fording (you all call it wading ) than the Raptor and its narower, id go from a raptor to that if it cost under $40 US and got over 28mpg highway. alas it will not be brought here bc emisions and saftey . I know people will say i sould buy a tacoma, but the Double cab is close in size to my supper cab and the tacoma i want gets the same MPGs real world and only costs 3k less than my raptor, yes i shopped around. i would love to see the VW Amork here as well haven grown up with a mom who drives TDI VWs (in addtion to her gmt 400 suburban) i have learned to love the small torquy diesils even if the 350 powerd suburban can spank them in a straigt line. I dont need to race people thats why i went with a 5.4 in the raptor instead of the 6.2

@Souther IL Man
Australia has the world's largest reserves of bauxite. So build aluminium trucks, we need more cash.

The diehard American pickup truck guys are getting anxious about the potential demise of the 1/2 ton truck. Just like the muscle car and huge NA cars of the 50s, 60s and 70s your pickups will change, for the better.

HDs will still be around but more so for those who really use them.

Remember a lot of these are lifestyle vehicles and fashion statements. For the one eyed brand buyers your companies will offer decent and competitive alternatives, that will excite you.

@Carilloski
The safety of these trucks are as good or better than most vehicles in the US and far safer than any pickup currently offered to you guys. They have the technology to meet your NOx requirements. Other than that they are cleaner than your diesels.

It's your manufacturers, unions and government that is hindering their availability in the US.

I know this site has a majority of US 1/2 ton followers, but there is a large NA market for these.

Your market is loaded with outdated mid-size trucks, that's why they don't sell. You guys really need to open up and have a competitive market.

Big Al, our manufacturers are your manufacturers. Ford Australia reports to the US Ford, same for GM. It's not like they're stand alone companies over there...or in the UK...or Asia...or anywhere else...still part of the US based corporations.

I find it very hard to believe that we have less safe or less advanced vehicles than Australia since we already have the toughest safety standards around...and any safety tech your Australian branded vehicles have is still owned by their US parent company.

So when you say the rest if the world has done what we can't it doesn't make any sense since WE already have, we're just not using it in our home markets.

@Big Al im not saying that the truck is not safe, but the requirements are different. I remember when my dad bought an M3 he wanted the brakes that where available on the euro spec one as they stopped better but for some reason they where not available in the US i don't remember what the reason was, but he was not happy about it some sort of safety regulation by our federal government. I think the big problem is that finical its not worth it to bring the new ranger over here. I know that the global prices include taxes, but the Ranger i want costs more than the Raptor i got so many people will not want a smaller more expensive truck just to get better mgs. I hope that they merge both the f150 and ranger into a true global truck, that way i could get high end trim with a manual transmission. even if they but the ranger 3l tdi in the f150 id be happy.

@USA - the million dollar (billion?) question is if the technology is already out there and is already owned by the companies already in the USA market, then why isn't it already here?
I think that those of us in NA, for the most part, do not know any better. Most people have been brainwashed to think that "we" are superior to everyone else. Add to the fact that the car companies are making a killing off of full sized pickups with a focus on "fancy trim" as opposed "fancy tech".
Perfect example:
Look at all of the comments made by the GM apologists "We are in 2nd place with and old outdated truck".

@USA
The US's standards and regulations might have been better than most countries, but that was 50-60 years ago. But on average your standards are good enough, it just the US has to be different. Now the rest of the world doesn't follow you guys anymore and are creating global standards. One day you will come on board.

Our new mid-size trucks are safer, they are tested similar to the Euro standard the same as our cars and they are outperforming some of our Euro cars.

Statistics speak for themselves, just take your death rate involving motor vehicle accidents. You're are twice as high per 100,000 people per mile than many European countries and Australia.

You pay less for your trucks because you earn about 2/3 what we do.

Are you pollution levels better, have a look at a some imagery from space. Europe has a larger concentration of people and their pollution levels are not nearly as bad as the US.

Some of your regulations and standards have been designed as trade barriers, not to improve your lives.

"You pay less for your trucks because you earn about 2/3 what we do."

I have seen you make this stupid comment before. Gross national income per capita, medium income and household wealth are all lower in Australia.

The biggest reason why vehicles are cheaper in the U.S. is the number of dealers and people across the country is huge. Econmic scale - the U.S. has thousands of dealers and 300 million people and you far fewer dealers and 22 million people. Do the math.

Here are some stats done by a university on road deaths. This might raise some eyebrows for a few of our US friends.

http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/papers/fatals.html

@Tom
Travel to Australia, these wages are two years old and our average wage is above AU$70 000 or US$72 000 at the moment. Our minimum wage is $32 000 (shelf packer in a supermarket) plus what you would call 401k. Our rate of overall taxation (% of GDP) is between the US and Canada.

This contributes to the prices of every day consumer products.

http://www.jobsabroadplus.com/very-high-wages-in-australia/

@USA. But the safety standards we do are more based on the European standards. Not much difference at all between the three, except the Australian and European give more emphasis on rollover protection.
Still a 3 out of 5 , is a 3 out of 5 no matter where you live.

@Tom, no they are not ,average and median is a lot lower in the US. I think Big Al has a point as the market will only charge what the consumer will bear.That being said prices are a lot cheaper ,because of the size of the market for North America.

@Tom
GDP wise, as a country we earn more than Spain with half the number of people. The US has 15 times our population but we earn 10% of the US. As a percentage of GDP you pay 28% in tax we pay 30% and Canada 32%. Euro countries like Denmark and Sweden pay over 50% of GDP as tax. The UK about 40%.

I think you need to have a look at the globe and outside of the US.

You do have a large population to sell pickups, but we buy in a bigger market it called the globe.

This link takes you to a group that "harmonises" vehicle regulations around the world. Look around as its interesting.

http://oica.net/category/worldwide-harmonization/un-expert-group-documents

@Big Al from Oz.
Can you clarify this? I think I know what you mean.
". The US has 15 times our population but we earn 10% of the US. "

@Robert Ryan
Australia's nominal GDP is over US$1.5 trillion, per capita this makes the largest of any major country (over 5 million people).

The US has a nominal GDP of just under US$15 trillon.

The Canadians' per capita now earn more for the first time than their southern brothers. Canada's GDP is just under US$1.9 trillon for their 34 million inhabitants.

List of countries by average salaries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_average_wage
US #1, Australia #5

@Jim
I would believe the Australian Bureau of Statistics before Wikipedia. The money is expressed in AUD not USD ($1AUD = $1.04USD)

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6302.0/

@Big Al from Oz - interesting statistics. One thing that many do not factor is the cost of health care. Many things may be cheeper in the USA but that isn't one of them. http://members.shaw.ca/tfrisen/which_is_the_better_health_care_.htm
http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/u-s-health-care-costs-more-than-socialized-european-medicine/
http://www.ehow.com/about_5379492_average-health-insurance-per-person.html

Back on topic - I do think that over time North American vehicles will be closely alligned to the global products. We are already seeing that trend with cars. The only two things saving full sized 1/2 ton trucks is the extremely high profits car companies are making by selling them and the relatively cheep price of fuel.
Car companies will cling tenaciously to the teets of full sized pickups while trying to milk every dime of profit out of them. They will downsize when they have no choice.

@Lou
Believe it or not those stats play a big role in what we drive and the lifestyle we expect. Back on song.

Aluminium is quite expensive in comparison to steel. Significant weight reduction can be obtained by using high tensile steel (like my truck).

All metal have their positives and negatives. Most metal used in the construction of body panels are of a low carbon steel (lower than mild steel). This allows the steel to be ductile and malleable. Without those properties it would be awkward to form all the vehicles body panels and lowering the stress buildups within the metals structure.

Also the higher the content of carbon in steel, the metal's resistance to corrosion is lowered. Look at the Eiffel Tower it is built with pure iron and corrosion is much lower. This goes for aluminum, as soon as its alloyed its ability to resist corrosion is significantly reduced, worst than iron alloyed to form steel.

Materials that would be most benificial is the greater use of composites and plastics.

The wikipedia link is net income which is more accurate.

For those idiots who think nationalized health care is a better system, they need to answer the question: “Why do border towns like Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, etc. perform tens of thousands of major surgeries on Canadian patients if their system is so perfect?”

@Jim
Here is a Wikipedia link on the nominal GDP of countries around the world. The PPP figures you have presented doesn't include international trade. Australia has significant international trade. We are one of the top countries that is open to free trade. Much higher than Euro and NA countries, these countries impose trade barriers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

From the WSJ: Along with the aluminum makeover, the new F-150 also is getting a more muscular look, according to one Ford designer.

Told ya, the next gen F-150 wasn't staying the same. 2015 F-150 more muscular.

@Jim - do you have proof?
The other thing is that in any "for profit" system, they will take anyone who can pay the bills.
If someone isn't willing to wait 6 months for a Hip athroplasty in Canada but has the cash, the Americans will do it.
Does it bother you that the USA health system is twice as expensive as the Canadian one? Close to 8,000 per person in the USA. Even with that being said, 15.4% are not covered for the entire year (Census Bureau, 1995) or about 42,000,000 U.S. citizens.31% of the U.S. population were not covered or could not afford to pay for care in 1995 (Harvard Study) or about 85,000,000 U.S. citizens.
Keep lapping up all of the propaganda that you can. While you do that Japan, China, and India will move into 1st, 2nd, 3rd place for economic might. While you argue the merits of for profit health care, the USA will slip into 4th place.
While you drive around in your full sized 1/2 ton, you'd better hope that you aren't one of those people without coverage. Are you one of the 30+% obese people that will need that health care?
Myself and few others on this site could have a real field day debating all sorts of global, geopolitical, or physcosocial issues. I was having an interesting conversation with Big Al. Feel free to join in if you can actually add something interesting or factual to the discussion. Any political ideology from the left or right doesn't cut it.
What we are talking about isn't directly related to trucks but buying health insurance, standards of living, wages etc all affect our ability to buy one.
I can afford USA medical insurance premiums if I wasn't employer covered, but it would mean that I couldn't afford a truck.

@Dave, MORE GUTS

MORE GLORY

THE 2013 RAM

To further aid economy, the new Hemi is also fitted with stop-start, thermal management and engine control systems, and active grille shutters and air suspension to play with the aerodynamics (reportedly improved to best-in-class 0.363 Cd).

ALL RAM POWERTAINS ACHIEVE 20+ MPG HWY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8j0yMmKCP4

2013 RAM: Shutters are controlled automatically by coolant temp sensors. Temps rise, shutters open.

@ Joe
I have a 2001 F150 and had a 2000 Ranger and both of them have aluminum hoods

Here is a link describing some of the difficulties the Chinese are having using aluminium. For the guys who don't know aluminium that is alloyed with different metals ie, magnesium or copper etc get a differing series allocation (defined by using thousands and broken down even further to describe the metal's property)

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2012/07/13/042519-ccid-consulting-aluminum-for-automobile-body-requires-breakthroughs-alloy-performance.html



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