Majority of Pickups Could Be Aluminum by 2025

IMG_7997 II

Depending on who you talk to, the idea of making pickup trucks out of aluminum is an idea that could catch on with truckmakers, resulting in as many as 7 out of 10 trucks being made from aluminum during the next few decades.

According to The Detroit News, marketing research firm Ducker Worldwide is predicting that once the 2015 Ford F-150 debuts and works out the bugs with dealerships and the auto repair industry, other truckmakers will likely to follow suit. In fact, a recent study by Ducker suggests that by 2025 as many as 7 in 10 pickup trucks made for the U.S. could be made completely or substantially from the lighter alloy.

The study was commissioned by the Aluminum Transportation Group, an organization dedicated to promoting the use of aluminum in new production areas. The Detroit News noted that members of the Steel Market Development Institute (you can guess where their biases lay) think more advances are likely to be made with less-expensive advanced high-strength steels. What a surprise.

All of this speculation about the use of more lightweight materials is motivated by the aggressive federal fuel-efficiency targets full-size pickups (those with a gross vehicle weight rating less than 8,500 pounds) will have to meet in the near future. Now that Ford is pushing the industry, it makes sense that others are likely to follow. Making vehicles lighter will naturally help improve a vehicle's EPA fuel economy numbers, but there are many other ways pickup truck makers can help their average fuel economy as well. Look for more less conventional solutions coming down the road, as well.

Cars.com image by Mark Williams

 

Comments

@Jeff S

You went out on a limb there. Do you realize that the average oil company is an unknown Mom/Pop business somewhere in Texas or the Dakotas? But they could just as easily be in Florida or Alaska.

The big firms like Exxon or BP are called verticals, because they own oil in the ground, they own wells, own shipping terminals, own barges and tankers, own receiving terminals, own refineries, own pipeline operations, own tanker trucks and own the retail distribution of finished products.

The verticals are fewer than FIVE PERCENT of the world's oil companies. Nobody is fixing the goddam price of retail fuel products. There is no oil cartel.

Oil is a competitive business.

Typical oil companies make less than ten percent profit in their businesses. If profit is what you want, invest in software companies or taxi cabs, not oil.

The trouble with our friends in the small truck big government alliance is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.

Tom#3

You're funny. Let's do this one last time. I just looked on consumer reports. 5 trucks are recommended! The are, F-150, Ridgeline, Frontier, Ram 1500,and Tundra! Again, make sure your facts are in order before you type!

As for the experts, they are praising the Ram. However, they aren't bashing the F-150, they are praising it too for being competitive with the other two redesigned trucks with such an outdated design! You're right about one thing, I'm not an expert. Of course I never claimed to be one either! I'm not shooting you down, the FACTS are! Fuelly.com clearly shows the 5.7 gets worse MPG than the ecoboost! Why can't you accept that?

AS far as me being ashamed, you're out of your mind! I know when I'm driving, I'm in the best truck on the road! I'm very happy with my truck

Tom#3

You need to quit lying about the Ecoboost being less efficient
than it's competitors!

BTW, you brought up CR's fuel mileage, here it is.

F-150 - 15 average
10/22 city/hwy
775/ $2950 average fuel per year

Ram - 15 average
10/21 city/hwy
820/$3110 average fuel per year

I guess CR is wrong too?

"An organization dedicated to promoting the use of aluminum in new production areas" says that by "2025 as many as 7 in 10 pickup trucks made for the U.S. could be made completely or substantially from the lighter alloy".

PUTC once again regurgitates a press release without any further investigation.

I'm sure that we will see more aluminum used in trucks. GM was supposed to have initially looked at aluminum in 2008 but bankruptcy and global melt down killed the plan.

One can thank CAFE mpg and emission rules that are "footprint" based.

@Tom#3 - better hurry down to that FCA dealer and buy yourself a 5.7 powered truck before they are forced to downsize engines and go to lighter alloys too.
FCA in the USA is going to run into trouble because they have a poor CAFE average and do not have hybrid or battery vehicles to boost EPA numbers.

@Jeff S - Mitsu, Mazda and Isuzu pickups have everything in common with Studebaker, International, Subaru and VW pickups. They all failed at providing consumers what they wanted, other OEMs did it better, and or, they just became irrelevant, bit players.

Same will happen to steel pickups that can't manage to switch over to aluminum. Consumers will look at steel pickups and think "obsolete rust magnets." The advantages of aluminum are too great. Increased mpg, greater capacity, longer engine/drivetrain life, a body that will last indefinitely, and reduced wear on everything you can think of. Tires, brakes, shocks, wheel bearings, bushings, ball joints, U-joints...

And there'e absolutely no evidence aluminum pickups will see a sharp increase in price. The aluminum body cars we've seen so far have been luxury, high end. Those cars would be expensive even if made of steal.

I don't see anyone rejecting all-aluminum pickups. In fact, consumers that wouldn't normally look at pickups, and have never owned, may be very interested (excited even?) in the benefits of an all-aluminum car (with a balcony!).

The 1st batch aluminum '15 F-150s will be sold at a loss regardless of price/MSRP But so what? It can take several years into a new generation of trucks, to break even. It's always a gamble, and some may never see a profit at all. That's why they get killed off. But trucks can easily go 10+ years between generations.

Body shops will figure it out. And adapt. It's a highly competitive industryBut how many trucks have you wrecked? 5? 10? 20? You related to Danica Patrick???

Ford has done its homework alright, while we wondered what was the point of aluminum hoods, all these years. I didn't even know I had an aluminum hood (since '04), until last year.

But it's becoming painfully clear, midsize pickups don't have the revenue to even think about all-aluminum bodies. They may not survive long enough for it to become economical to do so. Why else would the Small Pickup Mafia (SPaM) have such a problem with an obvious and huge advancement in trucks???

Again you have missed the point. Studebaker was no longer a viable company period. Isuzu, Mitsubishi, VW, and Suburu are viable corporations. You are basing everything on full sized American trucks. VW in a few years could become the World's largest manufacturer of vehicles surpasing Toyota. You are too much of a fan boy to see the big picture which is global. As for body shops again you are twisting my statement, I said that at first it would take some adjusting. I also stated that I would not be the first to buy anything new like an aluminum body truck, that is much different than never. Most first model vehicles regardless of brands have issues that are resolved over time. Regardless of weight savings many will get tired of these trucks and move onto the next hot vehicle. If you are so eager when are you going to buy a 2015 F-150? Have you placed your order for one yet?

@papa jim--There are few mon and pop oil companies and the few that exist get bought out by the big ones. I worked in the Oil & Gas business for years and worked for both independents and big corporations. Corporations are in the business to make a profit and they will maximize the profit. They do not have to be in a cartel to set a price, just look at the demand at a certain price. As for oil the profit is not in refining it is in selling the unrefined oil. Also in retailing gas it is the oil company that makes the largest part of the profit and the retailer (mom & pop) makes very little they hope to make just enough profit and get the customer to buy other things such as food and beverages. I am not anti corporation that is just business.

@papa jim--You were asking me if I like cheap gas. With the recent price fluctuations I would just be happy if the price stabilized. I honestly don't think it will stay below $4 a gallon over the long run and that is why I said that the oil companies don't have an incentive to keep prices too much below $4 a gallon because most of us have gotten use to those prices and have adjusted our budgets accordingly.

The body panels on these trucks may last indefinitely, but the supporting structure underneath will still be made of steel and subject to corrosion.

This is where the problems of repairing them under insurance approved DRP collision facilities will prove troublesome. Repair costs will be initially higher and that will reflect in slightly higher insurance premiums for consumers.

Ford is touting significant weight reduction with the aluminum body '15's. However, I think we need to find out how much weight reduction they will actually provide. They have claimed figures as high as 700 lbs, but we won't know the actual figures until we get an independent source to weigh an equivalent comparable '14 F-150 to a new '15 model.

I suspect that the actual numbers will be in the 300-400 lb range at the most. While that's certainly a great accomplishment when it comes to heavy body on frame 1/2 ton trucks these days, is the added higher repair cost worth the effort of a few hundred pounds of weight reduction by going to an all aluminum body? Only time will tell.

As for all this talk about aluminum hoods. GM had aluminum hoods on their downsized full-sized cars back in 1977. So, it's definitely not a new thing. Hopefully, the higher repair costs will be amortized through the DRP's and the repairs costs associated in fixing aluminum will come down as well.

@Jeff S

Whatever you know about Oil was from years ago. It is an entreprenurial business.

Vertical oil companies manage EACH separate operation--whether drilling or retail--as a business segment that has to make it on its own.

You show a shocking ignorance of the business. In the areas of pipeline construction and maintenance alone there are thousands of independent businesses that compete with the vertical producers, all over the world.

As to price: You continue to blather about the fluctuation in oil prices! If retail was a fixed game, as you seem to think it is, prices would not move. Instead, each vendor and gas station is competing with his neighbor to offer consumers a better product or price.

The number one factor that drove prices to where they are to day is weakness in the world's currencies. You are very confused if you think otherwise.

I'm going to agree with BCWrangler; having owned a vehicle with the 'plastic' cladding, they're virtually indestructible in ordinary driving with no rust and no 'wrinkles' and dents to worry about. Objects banging into the sides will leave no visible damage outside of a possible scratch or ding in the paint itself, which is easily buffed and touched up. The aluminum hood on the other hand would likely show more damage in a typical hailstorm, but conversely the aluminum tends to recover more readily over time--especially during a hot summer.

Not only that, but those urethane panels are not significantly heavier than aluminum while far less expensive. All in all, a more economical and durable solution than aluminum body side panels.

@Tom#3: You're only half right, unless you know something I don't. Those aluminum panels aren't likely to merely be bonded (glued) together. Much more likely is that the 'glue' will hold the panels while they are riveted together at the seams and onto the "space" frames that will give the body its shape. These rivets are also likely to be almost completely hidden under the paint so you'll never see them unless you know what you're looking for.

I'm going to give Mulally credit for bringing aviation technology into the automotive industry, but I personally think many of you will be complaining about body 'ripple' within just a couple years. I believe the urethane/polyester body panels would serve the same purpose and be far more durable.

@Tom#3: To respond to your second posting, you're just plain wrong.

"Why don't they use aluminum siding for houses anymore?
Cause it comes loose and falls off or blows off from the wind.
Why does it come loose?"
False. It's that the aluminum siding is much more easily damaged than vinyl (plastic). A single good hailstorm effectively totals the siding on the house, causing expensive replacement.

"What's going to happen to your glued together aluminum body truck when its outside below freezing then sits in the sun and warms up into the 80's?"
Again false, as there are all-aluminum aircraft still flying that are over 70 years old! They sit in the hot summer sun, completely exposed to the elements in most cases, yet still fly at 15,000 to 25,000 feet where temperatures can fall far below 0°F and they haven't fallen apart.

Worse, these planes are almost invariably powered by piston engines, larger ones notably by radial engines which are noted for the amount of vibration they can produce--especially if out of synch in multi-engined examples. Their operating conditions are far harsher than any truck will experience over its expected lifetime.

@papajim:
"You can't decide if the world is a place worth preserving for future humanity's sake, or if humans are simply selfish and unreliable creatures, unworthy of consideration and unredeemable."
These two items are not mutually exclusive. Humans ARE, as a whole, simply selfish and unreliable creatures, but that doesn't make the world a place NOT worth preserving for our future's sake. Just don't expect that future to look anything like what we have today. Things will have to change and when that change comes, those who survive it will not be happy with us.

@MontessaVR: Um... No.
"Aluminum is very corrosion resistant, which is why nearly all premium horse trailers are now mainly aluminum."
False. Aluminum corrodes just as readily as steel, if not more so; the form of that corrosion just looks different. The reason horse trailers are made of aluminum is that they're far lighter than the same trailer made of steel--perhaps 50% lighter overall.

@roadwhale, vulpine...

You really must have eaten your prunes this morning!

@Denver|Mike: You're letting emotion override reason.
"Mitsu, Mazda and Isuzu pickups have everything in common with Studebaker, International, Subaru and VW pickups. They all failed at providing consumers what they wanted, other OEMs did it better, and or, they just became irrelevant, bit players."
Let's start with the fact that Americans are not the ONLY consumers in this world; Mitsubishi, Mazda and Isuzu pickup trucks, along with VW's trucks, are quite popular around the world--EXCEPT here in the US, where they simply can't compete on price (we all know why, even if you choose to belittle that fact). Studebaker and International both failed for much the same reason American Motor Company failed--their products couldn't keep up with the competition. Interestingly, AMC got bought out by Chrysler and IH got bought out by one of the big truck manufacturers. Studebaker simply quit building cars but is still in operation--as STP.

"The advantages of aluminum are too great. Increased mpg, greater capacity, longer engine/drivetrain life, a body that will last indefinitely, and reduced wear on everything you can think of. Tires, brakes, shocks, wheel bearings, bushings, ball joints, U-joints..."
Partially true, but I'll guarantee that high-stress parts like those wheel bearings, ball joints, U-joints, etc. will still be made of steel; aluminum simply isn't as durable as you want to believe.

"And there'e absolutely no evidence aluminum pickups will see a sharp increase in price. The aluminum body cars we've seen so far have been luxury, high end."
There's also no evidence that the price of aluminum pickups will NOT see a sharp increase in price; the cost of aluminum is significantly more expensive than the same volume of steel and the aluminum panels will need to be thicker than their steel counterparts to offer the same strength. It's biggest advantage is that it's roughly 50% lighter than steel at that same strength.

"The 1st batch aluminum '15 F-150s will be sold at a loss regardless of price/MSRP."
I don't believe that any more than you do. With pickup trucks being the highest-profit vehicle in their inventory, they are NOT going to sacrifice all of that profit just to kick-start the product. What I do expect is that they will sacrifice SOME of their profit--maybe 20%-30% of their profit--to hold the prices down and remain competitively priced with their all-steel opposition. I'll also expect to see a gradual but steady rise back to their original profit margins.

"But it's becoming painfully clear, midsize pickups don't have the revenue to even think about all-aluminum bodies. They may not survive long enough for it to become economical to do so. Why else would the Small Pickup Mafia (SPaM) have such a problem with an obvious and huge advancement in trucks???"
You don't know that; you're just making an assumption based on your own opinion of how mid-sized or compact trucks will sell. Since you've already proven that your opinion can't be swayed, there's no point in arguing with you about it.

@ "therealmike":

"The body panels on these trucks may last indefinitely, but the supporting structure underneath will still be made of steel and subject to corrosion."
More so. Wherever aluminum meets steel, the risk of corrosion is far higher--for both metals.

The issue here is going to be electrolytic corrosion more than environmental corrosion. While it is true that aluminum doesn't APPEAR to corrode, what you may not realize is that the aircraft industry (I'm talking both civil and commercial aviation as well as military) has far tighter standards on inspection and corrosion prevention. Aircraft WILL be grounded if there is any visible corrosion anywhere on the airframe--inside or out. Having worked in aviation for both the US military and private operators, I've seen corrosion on aluminum and I've been involved in the efforts taken to detect and remove corrosion as well as followed corrosion prevention procedures.

But that doesn't mean that aluminum is immune to environmental corrosion, either. While in the Air Force, I remember one occasion where a pilot decided to fly back from a training exercise carrying about 50 pounds of shrimp in a plastic bag in the compartment behind his seat. What he forgot was that the compartment was not pressurized and he flew his return trip at 35,000 feet. As anybody in aviation will know, the bag carrying the shrimp burst--sending the salt-water shrimp all over the electronics compartment and leaving salt water pooled on the floor of the bay and, of course, leaking elsewhere within the airframe. Less than one year later that bird had to be grounded for life--unrepairable simply because they could not stay ahead of the corrosion. The plane itself was less than five years old and the most expensive fighter jet built at that time. It had to be scrapped, because the corrosion wouldn't even let it be used as a static trainer at any of the Air Force's training bases.

So aluminum is far from "rust proof".

@papajim: No prunes; just my usual morning coffee. "Double Black Diamond".

@RoadWhale:

"You're letting emotions..."


What "emotions"? Small pickups were never cheap to build, in and of themselves. But they shared drivetrains with cars and SUV. They also shared the chassis with SUVs. Those 2 key elements went away. Then demand went away. The SUV trend grew exponentially. Obviously, only the strongest survived. Nissan, Toyota and now GM again.

Some of the dead (to North America) pickups lived and live on in some parts of the world. So what? They have zero competition from fullsize pickups and don't have to deal with our fleet, cheapskates and incessant bottom feeders. Nor rebates. They command much higher prices around the world and actually sell "King Ranch" and "Platinum" levels of luxury midsize pickups!

It just points to the fact, unless they sold at cut-rate prices, Americans were never really fans of small/midsize pickups (domestics, imports, what ever), and the huge smaller pickup market we once had, was totally artificial.


"...aluminum simply isn't as durable as you want to believe."

Yeah, aluminum is too soft for bearings and such, but a truck body will do just fine. Corrosion is minimal (if at all), when compared to steel. Aluminum panels won't turn to dust.

"...the cost of aluminum is significantly more expensive than the same volume of steel..."

Correct, but the cost going from raw materials to finished and ready to paint, has never been significant cost, compared to everything else that goes into building trucks. At least with full-size pickups, the OEM could easily absorb the extra costs of all-aluminum bodies, if they choose. Fullsize trucks are overpriced anyways (at MSRP). At worse, factory rebates could be slightly limited. And there's not telling how many consumers will specifically seek out all-aluminum pickups. Any sizable increase in sales could easily offset extra costs.

"...I expect is that they will sacrifice SOME of their profit--maybe 20%-30% of their profit--to hold the prices down and remain competitively priced..."

You don't understand, an all-new generation doesn't come for FREE. The billions spent have to paid back 1st. So every generation will be most profitable at the end of the run. Profitability is averaged out, looking back, but is also unknown till the end of the generation.


"...you're just making an assumption based on your own opinion of how mid-sized or compact trucks will sell..."

Depending on how well they sell now, OEMs aren't even considering aluminum are any major (and expensive) advancements is their midsize pickups. Like at all.

All-aluminum pickups are a huge advancement, whether you like to admit it or not. I'm not sure why any truck enthusiast would oppose it?????????????

Right on cue. How predictable.

"Corrosion is minimal (if at all), when compared to steel. Aluminum panels won't turn to dust."
I beg to differ. And I have real-life experience to back it up.

"Correct, but the cost going from raw materials to finished and ready to paint, has never been significant cost, compared to everything else that goes into building trucks."
Better do a little research. The cost savings is in using recycled aluminum, not in refining the ores.

"You don't understand, an all-new generation doesn't come for FREE. The billions spent have to paid back 1st. So every generation will be most profitable at the end of the run."
Apparently I understand it better than you, since my statement was in direct response to, "The 1st batch aluminum '15 F-150s will be sold at a loss regardless of price/MSRP", which implies--no, categorically states--that they would be making negative profits with the first batch. Your terminology is what tripped you up here.

"All-aluminum pickups are a huge advancement, whether you like to admit it or not. I'm not sure why any truck enthusiast would oppose it?????????????"
An advancement, yes. A "huge advancement"? No. A huge advancement would be one that gives a standard-sized pickup--not one of these bloated Road Whales™ truly decent fuel mileage--as in excess of 30mpg NOW, not in ten more years as mandated. This is going to take a combination of factors that each of the brands individually are investigating PLUS a completely new powertrain. At least for the moment, Tesla looks like they'll take the lead in 2020 when (if) they introduce their all-new, all-electric pickup truck that gets a minimum of 200 miles per charge and maybe even 400 miles by then.

@Road Whale--I actually would prefer a plastic body to an aluminum body, but wouldn't aluminum be lighter? Aluminum can corrode which will show as a white color. I had to tear an entire porch down that was aluminum because it was corroding. I think aluminum will be one of the materials used for bodies but I do not see it as the only material. How about carbon fiber? There are other materials that are light as well.

@papa jim--I never said the value of currency had no influence, I said it was not the only factor. Your view of things is very simplistic and one sided. As for business yes there are independents but the major oil that is found and produced is by the multinational corporations. Demand determines price as well. There is a certain price point where a maximum volume will be obtained that maximizes profit. Below a certain price the amount of volume sold will not be enough and profit will decrease and above a certain price profit will decrease. At a certain price a commodity will actually lose profitability. The point of maximum profit is where the price and the volume of a commodity intersect. Even an independent business person should know that or else they will lose money. Just to say the price of gold and the value of a currency is the only determinate of a price of a commodity is uninformed at best. As for contractors who build pipelines there are many larger corporations that will fulfill the contract and yes they might contract the work out to some independent contractors.

@Road Whale--I think papa jim does not want any regulation or standards at all. Maybe he would like to to have air and water like China has. The Earth itself might not perish from increased pollution of air and water but we as a species might disappear. If that happened eventually the Earth would heal and man would be gone. Since I don't have any children that is not as much concern to me but since you have a child and since papajim is a grandfather then he might have some concern, but then again maybe he is either totally obtuse or self centered (I got mine and who cares about the next generation). Too much government regulation can be harmful but none at all is a harmful extreme. Not everything is as black and white, it is different shades of gray.

@Vulpine - You'd make a perfect shyster lawyer. If you could ever pass the Bar. You try to shift the conversation to inconsequential technicalities on terminology you think you've GOT ME on.

But let's hear your Real Life Experience with aluminum "corrosion"...

And the way things are going, fullsize pickups will reach that magical 30 mpg first. Easily... Ten speed transmissions, alloy bodies, etc. These technologies may trickle down to midsize (or smaller) pickups, if they not all extinct in a few years...

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

They don't seem to care. So this will go on.

Fk aluminum,
use Hemp,,
it's is way stronger lighter and cheaper to produce

http://youtu.be/1A2C2REfaKM

Fk aluminum,
use Hemp,,
it's is way stronger lighter and cheaper to produce

pay attention at 0.55

http://youtu.be/1A2C2REfaKM

If u go with the aluminum raptor frame being they are coming out with aluminum if you go in the sand they are fine. Hit a few rocks off road break up that chasis,steel is more durable for this kind of off roading.Just like dodge power wagons are steel frames,they can take alot more impact down below .so i dont know why you would go with aluminum. Just lighten trucks other ways.Design better fuel effiecent motors. ps light is not everything.



The comments to this entry are closed.