By Kelsey Mays, Cars.com
In case you haven't heard, Ford's redesigned 2015 F-150 will have aluminum body panels — part of what helps save the light-duty pickup truck up to 700 pounds (crew cab versus crew cab) compared to its steel-bodied predecessor. The results should be a boon for fuel economy, but we noted Jan. 21 that concerns persist for insurance and repair costs.
Now Ford is recommending that repair shops get the proper certification to fix its upcoming aluminum-bodied truck. The Detroit News reports the Dearborn, Mich., automaker suggested to its dealers at the just-concluded 2014 National Automobile Dealers Association conference that, in order to best serve their customers, their repair shops should get certification to fix the half-ton pickup truck. According to the article, certification could cost between $30,000 to $50,000 for tooling upgrades, but Ford will chip in $10,000. We should note that Ford does not require the certification, nor does it withhold any parts, training or repair information if a dealership or repair facility chooses not to participate in the program.
What does that mean to potential shoppers for the new F-150? The F-Series is far and away Ford's best-selling model, and Ford expects most dealers to be certified in order to promote the fact to their customers. Ford told the newspaper that up to 80 percent of repair work on its current lineup is done at independent shops, not Ford dealers. The certification process could move more of that business back to the automaker's dealers for the F-150 — but that will depend on how many of them decide to certify and how truck buyers respond to the new pickup.
The 2015 Ford F-150 goes on sale late this year.
(Editor's Note: This story has been modified on 1/29/13 to more accurately reflect the issues surrounding the Ford certification program regarding aluminum body repairs.)