Ford Faces Production Challenges for 2015 F-150

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It's one thing to create an entirely new production process for a niche vehicle but quite another to devise a completely new build strategy for the most popular vehicle in a company's lineup. That's exactly what Ford is attempting with an entirely new F-150 rivet-and-glue process for its aluminum body panels.

According to Automotive News, Ford understands how important this new challenge is and what is at stake. The new build process could create some huge problems for Ford if everything doesn't go perfectly smoothly; but Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, seems to think the staggered F-150 plant remodels will go well, but, then again, what would you expect him to say?

The Kansas City, Mo., F-150 production facility is running at full speed now (about 60 trucks per hour) with 2014 models in order to make sure the half-ton truck pipeline stays full while the Dearborn, Mich., plant removes all of its spot-weld robots and replaces them with rivet machines and glue dispensers.

According to Jay Baron, president of the Center for Automotive Research (who's been studying the use of aluminum in automobiles for more than 20 years), the new body panel procedures and their special clean-room requirements could be a huge benefit for Ford. In fact, just regarding the issue of scrap metal use, Ford stands to make huge improvements over the previously inefficient model. By some estimates, scrap steel costs 8 to 10 cents per pound, while scrap aluminum can cost (or save) more than 10 times that amount. Additionally, where scrap stamped steal is usually recycled into lesser-quality products like rebar, high-quality aluminum can typically be recycled back into high-quality aluminum — for another potentially huge cost savings.

But getting all the new processes and line workers up to speed in just a few months (the amount of time that each of the two F-150 plants will be down while changes are made) is likely to create a few bumps along the way, possibly resulting in some sales volume drops as Ford makes those difficult machine transitions. Those volume losses will clearly cost Ford money late in 2014 and in early 2015. Once Ford is up to full capacity at both plants (likely some time before spring), getting back up to Ford's 60-trucks-per-hour rate, Hinrichs should be able to take a deep breath. Of course, if this goes smoothly for Ford, more change is likely.

Many reports have said the new Super Duty, due out as a 2016 model, will also likely use new aluminum body panels to help improve fuel economy. And some experts, like Baron, don't see any major issues with the use of aluminum on heavy-duty pickups; in fact, some of the technology that Baron and other members of the National Research Council have seen indicates that it may not be too much longer until we see even greater weight savings with aluminum ladder frames. Until then, Ford's experiment will be closely watched by competitors and the government. More to come.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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Comments

Every time I see pictures of the upcoming F150 I think it is a Tundra.

POS Ford, love my 2015 Sierra 2500 HD Denali though :-)

Rivets & glue. Is ford building toys or trucks.

Typical ford, leader in the industry.
All the other so called trucks will follow soon enough.
GM and Ram will be late to the party as usual.

@uh huh

Semi trucks (Peterbilts/Kenwoths) have had aluminum cabs held together with rivets and glue for decades. I would almost guarantee those trucks go through a lot more abuse and punishment than anything you even throw at your truck.

I have yet to see a tundra in this new design. Why would Ford want to copy anyone, including ram who has copied them for years.

I don't understand why GM and Ram fans bash Ford for this. I love my GMC, always will, but it would be ignorant for me to sit here and bash Ford when we all know damn well that GM and Ram will eventually follow suit. It's how the industry works, Ford just so happened to be the first to the party.

That front is really ugly IMO.
Anyhow, it's nice to see Ford struggling. Later they launch their India Aluminum, more people will stay safe on the road .

Only people with little brain would think this f-150 looks like tundra...this truck looks like 2008 f-250.
Unreal..... some people just don't have a clue about trucks....

Its only a matter of time before GM and Ram will be doing the same thing and making their trucks out of aluminum and retooling their plants. Aluminum will be the future for every new truck that's unless they start making them out of carbon fiber.

"Its only a matter of time before GM and Ram will be doing the same thing and making their trucks out of aluminum and retooling their plants. Aluminum will be the future for every new truck that's unless they start making them out of carbon fiber."

Posted by: Rob | Sep 8, 2014 6:35:25 PM

No aluminum for RAM until 2020

"Rivets & glue. Is ford building toys or trucks"
So when's the last time you flew at 35000' and 600 mph? Yes, that was in an airliner made of aluminum, rivets, glue, and a lot of plastic (composite) material, hardly a toy.

I'm not too concerned about the aluminum challenges. Aluminum is not a new material. Many vehicles have started using aluminum hoods and other panels and I've heard of very few problems with them. Planes use aluminum with rivets and adhesives and obviously there's no problem with them lasting a long time. Aluminum horse trailers are vastly superior to steel. I don't think you can even buy a premium horse trailer that is not made with aluminum. Humvees and other military vehicles use lots of aluminum. How about all the mail trucks out there? I have many power tools with aluminum housing and they really take a beating. How about aluminum Ipads? Aluminum rims have always been considered premium vs. steel. Of course it isn't perfect, but aluminum is superior to steel in most applications.


I had planned to probably buy the 2015 f150, but now I'm planning to buy a 2014 or 2013 most likely. My dealer still has a new leather interior 4x4 2013 lariat that is 12,000 off msrp at about $30,000. I'd love to get the 2015, but there's no way I can get a better truck for the price within the next year, and I need a truck soon.

As for looking like a tundra. The outline of the grille is similar to toyota, but that is all. Look at a picture of a tundra and a picture of this side by side and you can hardly say they look similar. no more similar than a ram or GM truck overall. The headlights couldn't be more different. Bumper is completely different. Fenders, doors, mirrors, windows all completely different. Tundra is marshmallowey in appearance and the ford is much more squared.

I will stick to my steel welded truck over a glued one thank you very much. If Ram follows suit which is likely to happen. (thank you government) I will decide to buy or rebuild the truck i have.

Ford is bound to have recalls on these new trucks guaranteed. I was in the vender section at the NASCAR track a few years ago. They wanted 50,000 plus for a platinum F 150 my jaw dropped. The new Fords will cost more to own. More for insurance more for body repairs. It's a good looking truck but if i was a Ford fan i would wait it out a little while and monitor the trucks.

I fully expect the trucks to sell fine once they start appearing on dealer lots. That is assuming there is ample supply, if there's not, some may get frustrated and buy something else.

Quality in overall design is rarely lacking these days. I'm sure Ford has done all their homework.

I think the biggest issue could end up being in the assembly and production of these trucks. Ford needs the public to accept aluminum, therefore quality assurance and detecting and eliminating manufacturing defects become all the more important.

Until this proves itself to me, I'll stick will go to GM.

@All off the Ford guys

Semi trucks (Peterbilts/Kenwoths) have had aluminum cabs held together with rivets and glue for decades. I would almost guarantee those trucks go through a lot more abuse and punishment than anything you even throw at your truck.

"Rivets & glue. Is ford building toys or trucks"
"So when's the last time you flew at 35000' and 600 mph? Yes, that was in an airliner made of aluminum, rivets, glue, and a lot of plastic (composite) material, hardly a toy."

All of you Ford guys who didn't like the "Rivets and glue" statement then talked about semi's and planes use them were the ones bashing Toyota guys when they said the frames on semi's and plane wings flex http://toyota-alabama.com/toyota-truck-triple-tech-frame-advantage/. It's funny how when you guys use the example it's okay.

I do realise many want this new aluminium F-150 to sell and it will sell.

But, it faces many challenges. I do read some of the comments and grin. I do probably know more about working with aluminium than many who comment on this site.

What Ford is doing with the F-150 is great, no doubt about it. But, will it be as successful as the previous F-150s? This I do doubt.

It seems most here only talk about the cost difference between the two metal. There is another significant cost. It's called development cost. Has anyone tried to find out how much the design and development cost of the new F-150 is?

Then there is the additional unscheduled and unforeseen problems. Ford is already having problems working and forming the aluminium.

Just look at the shape of the aluminium F-150. To work with aluminium cheaply form the metal is restrictive and this can be seen in the angular and generally straight line that are being formed.

Yes, we have had aluminium vehicle previously, but the cost of an aircraft is significantly different than that of a motor vehicle.

That's why trucks and even the Aluminium Land Rovers worked, but they are as aesthetic as a bathtub. Large almost flat sheets of aluminium.

I bet the next F-150 doesn't meet the targeted weight. It will still be powered by the 2.7 Eco Boost.

This is why I do think Fiat with it's Ram has made a reasonable decision, that they can only benefit on.

GM with the Colorado has hedged itself.

Toyota and Nissan with their perspective with the 1/2 ton HDs when you really don't have a HD is a great idea.

Ford will face some real challenges with this truck. The aluminium Ford is innovative. But the biggest innovation will be the actual production of them, not the vehicle itself.

Maybe people should focus on this aspect of the pickup. Then maybe you'll see what I'm seeing.

If anybody is into snowmobiling the best performing mountain sleds from any manufacture out there uses adhesives to glue there sled together (polaris). The longest lasting travel trailers with the best resell use aluminum and rivets (Air Stream). Insurance you prolly won't see much of anything if the F150 can maintain its current crash ratings.

The others will follow as they all have aluminum body panel or two currently. Ford is just the first to use it in this quantity on such a mass produced vehicle. Even if you like the other brands you should be excited as this raises the bar and in the future your preferred brand will be more capable and better performing then the current cause of ford taking this step.

@Big Al from Oz
There is a lot of misinformation and lack of knowledge about aluminum, and it leaves most of us only guessing as what will happen.

I don't even think most automotive journalists have a good enough understanding to warrant writing about it.

I hold the position that whether or not the '15 F150 succeeds initially, it will eventually do as well as it's predecessor.

This is because eventually consumers will have to accept lighter materials on way or the other, and I suspect aluminum will be a major one of those materials. The GM and Ram will have to follow suite.

@HEMI MONSTER
I don't think the consumers will be the problem. The only problem for the consumers will be the cost.

There are many who claim this will not cost much more etc. But, it has to cost more or the profits from Ford will be severely diminished.

The F Series is Ford's golden egg, they can't afford to f4ck this up.

Ford is taking a huge gamble. To me a successful F Series will be break even for the first several years of production.

Ford will find itself in the same position as GM with the pricing of their vehicles. GM pickups also represent a huge portion of their takings as well.

The significant identifier to the cost of the aluminium pickup will be the average transaction price and not the so called sale prices or the recommended retail prices.

It's the transaction prices that show how much Ford will make from these.

The global Ranger cost Ford a staggering $3.5 billion or in todays dollars near on $4 billion. This is for quite significant for a traditional designed vehicle.

But, the Ranger/BT50 are of constructed of very thin high tensile steel. Maybe Ford used the Ranger to determine what direction to take in relation to future vehicle material and decided on the aluminium.

The cost of the Ranger is that high to design how many years will it take to pay back the investment into development.

How much is the material cost of the Ranger? Then add the development cost over a couple of million pickups over the life of the pickup. The cost is still thousands per vehicle.

The F-150 will face massive development costs in comparison.

Once production of the aluminium truck is up and running you will have several years of constant re-organsing and process changes, etc.

You will definitely have quality issues. I wouldn't want a new aluminium Ford for a couple of years. Just look at the probems that Ram had with the new 1500, and its very traditional in comparison.

I myself would wait a year or two till Ford gets use to building these trucks. I do think that it will cost more to do body work. We do know that GM trucks will go to aluminum bodies by 2018 and Ram will eventually follow but at what cost. I do see an opportunity the Colorado/Canyon if they increase their fuel economy and keep enough of a price difference after any discounts. It will be hard to predict what will happen but it is almost certain the prices of all trucks will rise in the next few years. If the prices rise enough there might be more older trucks on the road. It might pay for owners to fix their old trucks and keep them.

Ford is making a smart decision to keep making the 2014's for a while to have inventory while they are addressing production delays on the 2015's. GM got criticized for stockpiling 2013's before the release of the 2014's but they too had their reasons and the dealers don't want to be left without inventory. I do think it is wise to delay production and get things right, but there will be unforeseen issues just from the production of a new truck with a new material new to Ford (aluminum).

What a huge job for the operations team there. Looking forward to seeing these trucks in the flesh. Also bring on the 2016 Super Duty already!

good job ford..leading and out front as usual

also, that is a good looking truck and does not look like a toyota, the only problem with the one in the above picture is no chrome

Its nice to see Ford bringing the pickup from a vehicle chained to the past and roaring it through the present and into the future. Technologies such as DOHC, Vari Timing, DI, Turbos are almost a decade late getting to trucks for no good reason other than cost savings on a client base that for any number of reasons was easily pacified with easier, cheaper, lesser improvements/solutions or even happy to live with sill handicaps.

Aluminum body panels is the next logical step and Ford is leading the way again. The question is how long will it take Ram and GM to follow. Ram is quick to recognize successful trends and move to accomodate them (the pentestar V6 and excellent interiors for example) and even establishing a few trends of their own (ecodiesel and rear coil suspension) and for this reason they are eating away at GMs market share.

Aircraft, Big Rigs and Super Cars have been made of aluminum for years and bonded with adhesives and rivets. Adhesives have been integral in auto and aviation assembly for decades. Rivets held every iron and steel ship together until just prior to WWII and continue to hold up America's most Iconic sky scrapers. The question here is scale, and cost. There will be "teething" issues. I wouldnt want to be the first with a new F150. But just like every good idea brought to maturation it will be a winner and well worth having after its kinks are worked out and they will be.

The other big question for Ford and the industry in general is will 2015 F150 production meet demand and be able to maintain its industry segment dominance? It would be a real shame to see the F150 lose is almot 40 year consecutive crown of best selling truck in America becuase of issues with the new methods of production.

Time will tell.

I think Ram made a good decision for now. By delaying using aluminum til 2020, their trucks are going to be cheaper to buy than Fords and Chevys. However they will have to use aluminum by then to keep up. The trucks are going to go up in price quicker than inflation and this will make them harder to sell without huge discounts. Most people will still buy the cheaper truck even if it gets a couple mpg's less. This could really help Ram sales for 3 or 4 years. If a recession comes they won't be able to give them away unless the rebates are huge imo.

Crazy comedy all the hopeful Ford ill wishes. I understand and appreciate some of the genuine apprehensions for the new manufacturing technology. I for one have very little concern, having had some good tech talks with some defense industry folks and metallurgists who deal with aluminum in ground and airborne applications. Their take on Ford is positive. For the fanboy propagandists , my advice to you is to not bet your steel penny collections on a fail. The only real hope you all have is a fail. GM has some serious issues with quality and design /marketing missing the target.I believe this will be corrected at GM. Fiat-Chrysler/Dodge Ram has been making great strides in gaining market share against GM and benefitting from the non existent Nissan and tiny Tundra numbers(that is bound to change especially for Nissan). I must point out that Chryslers dog of a truck(past) really had no place to go but up and it has. It certainly is prettier than it used to be, but the reliability factor is still the most prominent hold back. Other posters are correct that that for certain GM will follow with aluminum. As for the Fiat group that will be a tall order, aluminum can only happen if they can come up with the cash. Good luck with that, the TV commercial saturation for the Fiat 500 and the lackluster sales are very telling. The completely awful Dodge Dart TV campaign is going to bury the hope this will build a pile of cash for Fiat. The numbers do not lie, Fiat cannot get there on it's Ram franchise alone. They will need a miracle or a partner to make aluminum happen. The partner idea is far more likely.
I have no ill will to the Ram fans, it is simply a reality.

Ford should go with a 2015 F150 redesign for the 2016 SD F250. F150 looks tough.

@AD

"All of you Ford guys who didn't like the "Rivets and glue" statement then talked about semi's and planes use them were the ones bashing Toyota guys when they said the frames on semi's and plane wings flex......"

When was I bashing Toyota and their frames?

@FXDX1450
Don't you worry .Fiat always have the money . It's mafia. Remember, they bought the Chrysler group. RAM has the bright future in front of them.

Ford has said the cost of switching from steel to aluminum amounted to about $600 per truck. that's a pretty minor cost really considering that ford margins average somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 per truck. Ford said a few years ago that development costs for the 2015 f150 would be about 2 billion dollars, which is really not much if it ended up being even close to accurate. those costs are spread out over many years as well. Last year ford sold 885,000 trucks. At 8,000 to 10,000 per truck that's over 7 billion dollars profit in one year on their trucks alone. I don't think there is any reason to believe they can't keep offering their trucks at competitive prices. I'm sure ford will be back offering great incentives on their f-150 again, I just don't want to wait for that time to come. This also explains why ford was the first to be able to develop an aluminum truck. They have a LOT more money to spend on product development than chevy or ram because they make a lot more money on their trucks because they sell a lot more trucks. I've also heard that ford's margins per truck are significantly higher than ram or chevy.

The fact is ford has been doing very well the last few years gaining market share while not having a major redesign to pay for in 11 years on the f-150 and 15 years (and counting) on the super duty. That is a big reason why I believe the f-150 will be a better truck than any other with relatively few problems. I think ford made some really good moves with alan mulally and got a little bit lucky going through the recession so now they have the resources to give us a better truck than ram or GM. They don't necessarily have better or smarter engineers, they simply have had a lot more money and a lot more time which SHOULD result in a better truck.

They don't necessarily have better or smarter engineers, they simply have had a lot more money and a lot more time which SHOULD result in a better truck.


Posted by: Beebe | Sep 8, 2014 10:57:13 PM

I dare to disagree.
Smarter engineers makes better truck. Not the money. Money makes better PR, which Ford is doing exactly that with them.
RAM engineers are better than Ford engineers IMO.

Remember, RAM has access to engineers from Ferrari, Lancia, Fiat, VM Motori, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, IVECO.
They also own Coman for automation and don't forget metal foundry Teksid . Most importantly Teksid Aluminum.
Teksid is a world leader in the production of iron and castings for the automotive industry with operations spread out in Europe, North and South America and Asia.

FCA is ready to kick Fords oz.


@Beebe,
Yup, what about the development costs???

It's well and good to defend Ford with skewed data.

How many billions is Ford spending on the F-150??

$6, $8, $10 billion?? Who know's. But Ford will want to make a return on this money over several years.

Divide that into several millions trucks, remembering 1 000 million makes a billion. Daunting.

The cost also is material cost, not production costs as well.

You would be looking at thousands and not hundreds in extra costs.

Aluminium cost more, a lot more to use and fabricate.

Read up on why aluminium has been used in the transport and logistics industry.

They will choose a diesel engine over an aluminum body for savings over life of a vehicle.

Aluminium does pay off. But in this case with the F-150 the supposed saving are driven by regulation and not dollars.

The one thing that is kind of irritating about this new F-150 is how Ford has yet to release any of the specs on it. You would figure that since the trucks will start hitting dealers next month that there would be something. I was told by some of our Ford dealership guys that there is a power increase of 5-10hp and 15-20lb-ft of torque with the 3.5L Ecoboost. I guess we'll just have to continue to wait.

Ram already out performs Ford in 1500. So Ford fans does a glued truck with a 2.7 L engine make it a better truck? NOT to me. If gas mileage is your ruler for best truck maybe. MPG is not an issue with me in any vehicle i choose. That's my better truck POWER and CAPABILITY. Ford is still chasing Ram in that regard.
Good luck.

@All1
We have insider information that Ford is looking at a maximum tow rating of above 12,000 lbs for the upcoming 2015 Ford F-150.
We will know soon at State Fair of Texas.
This info should make you happy.

Rams also outperforms Ford in MPG with two power trains. So Ford is still playing catch up to the class leading Rams.


"That's my better truck POWER and CAPABILITY. Ford is still chasing Ram in that regard."

The current 2014 Ram Hemi 1500 has less horsepower, torque, and tow rating than the current 2014 F150 so how can you say this?

@All1 - "so how can you say this?"

I'm sure it was covered in an FCA press release somewhere!

@ALL1
Please don't get into a slanging match with HEMI V8.

Not today.

2014 F150 6.2L Crew cab 4x4

410hp
434lb-ft

11,100lb tow rating
1,860lbs payload


2014 Ram 1500 5.7L Crew cab 4x4

395hp
407lb-ft

10,100lb tow rating
1,510lb payload

@zvirus,
I do agree that Fiat with it's Ram pickups have made a wiser decision than Ford.

But I also think GM with the Colorado will give the Pentastar and Eco Diesel Ram some competition.

Ford will stick by aluminium as it has gone well beyond the point of no return.

The F-150 will sell and sell well. How well? I don't think it's sales will be as high as they are now.

But the drop will not be all regarding retooling and the incremental conversion from the existing F-150 to the aluminium one.

So, yes Ram in my mind should be able to capitalise on these new aluminium Fords. How much? I don't know.

@All1, *93 octane. My mistake i thought Ford already killed that Dinosaur. Better buy those 6.2L up fast. Here comes the 2.7L lol

@Big Al

Are you mad because Ford went with aluminum instead of a diesel in the F-150? It sure is coming across that way.

@Hemi V8

And the Hemi 5.7L power numbers are on 89 octane. You also just said you didn't care about mpg so..........

I was just pointing out that your statement is false for the current trucks. If it was factual then I would not have said anything.

Ford will stick by aluminium as it has gone well beyond the point of no return.
Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Sep 8, 2014 11:56:30 PM

It might turn to FUBAR quickly.

Fords 6.2 MPG on 93 octane.

6.2L 12/16/13

5.7L Hemi 15/22

I have to have a little MPG with my power and capability.

Ram wins again.

@Hemi V8

"I have to have a little MPG with my power and capability."


Really? Then why did you just say this not even an hour ago?

".......So Ford fans does a glued truck with a 2.7 L engine make it a better truck? NOT to me. If gas mileage is your ruler for best truck maybe. MPG is not an issue with me in any vehicle i choose.........
Posted by: HEMI V8 | Sep 8, 2014 11:33:14 PM"


And why are you playing this Ram versus Ford wins stupid BS? What, are you in kindergarten? I was just pointing out something that was false. Not trying to "win" anything on Ford's part.

@ALL1
I'm not aligned to any manufacturer. Like most of the commenters on this site.

I do think Ford's push to aluminium is premature.

But, Ford was left in a position relating to CAFE regulations where it had little else it could do.

Look at the weight of the existing F-150, it is quite heavy. So it has to reduce weight.

Remember Aluminium is only being used because it was essentially forced onto the manufacturer.

Ram, even though they are having some FE issues might be better off paying the 'CAFE fines' for not achieving the required FE.

This aluminium F Series will cost Ford an immense amount of money.

Ford will go to diesel in the F Series as well. But, again with US regulation this makes it harder to achieve.

You will have your aluminium F-150's, but if Ford attempt to contain the price to remain competitive it could up finding itself like GM, profit wise, with little.



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