What do you think about Fords move to all aluminum F series trucks?

Just read an article on it and seems to me they have gone to an awful lot of trouble to save 700 pounds. Higher cost, hard to repair, hard to weld, etc. so need to rivet and glue where they used to spot weld. Need to train body shops on repair and they need to invest $30-50K in new equipment. Just seemed like as mentally doing the cost/benefit analysis that the benefits didn’t seem to outweigh the costs. Never been done on a high production level before so why would they want to risk it on their flagship money makers? Maybe they should have done this to the Ranger line instead rather than risking everything on their most profitable line. When I see pictures of the smiling executives for what they achieved by over-coming all the obsticles, I get concerned that they are really out to lunch giving the impression of being forward thinkers.

I don’t think it’s “all aluminum”; I think much of the sheet metal is aluminum. The F150 is hardly the first vehicle to have Al sheet metal; even fairly everyday vehicles have been using Al hoods, etc…it’s just that the use is more extensive here.

I think it ought to work out; much larger coal trucks have had Al beds for some time now, so durability is proven.

If done the right way with thickness and support that makes the metal as strong as the steel it replaces, no problem and it could help some in rust prevention. I doubt that the frame is aluminum or areas that require more structural strength. Toyota has long since replaced the bed with cpmposite…no one has found an issue or complained. We do have plastic bumpers and plastic cladding on cars and trucks along with plastic fender flares on trucks. They still have or should have published crash test results that will tell you all you need to know about the integrity of the truck safety wise. Really, it was a bigger deal changing the motor line up to the ecoboost …that really enhanced sales initially. In the pick up truck area, everyone has to shortly conform to mileage standards similar to cars…they won’t be your “dad"s” trucks for long. They will become lighter and more car like and all are in the same boat together. Others will do similar things to enhance mileage. IMHO, you will eventually like the results.

'‘build it and they will come’'
It’s only the pickup sheet metal that hasn’t been done before . All previous applications can be used to learn to adapt for that.
boats, planes, trailers, etc have been aluminum for decades.
We’ll get it.

The marketplace will decide. I’ll wait to see.

Check out a Peterbilt or Kenworth-Kevin

There’s absolutely no question that aluminum in both body and structural applications has been with us for a very long time. It’s common in trucks and aircraft particularly. All aircraft other than uber-expensive private jets, ultralights, and homebuilts (kits) are pretty much entirely aluminum, including structural members. Have been since… well… forever. Weren’t no steel on our B52s.

However, on large trucks and on aircraft the economics demand light weight. In both applications weight is much more expensive than the added cost of aluminum. In small pickups the bulk of which are used as private vehicles, we’ll have to wait and see whether the marketplace will be willing to pay the added cost of aluminum.

It’ll be interesting to see how it comes out. If Ford buyers switch to other manufacturers’ steel trucks, it won’t last. If buyers switch from other manufacturers to the aluminum Fords, other manufacturers will follow. Only time will tell.

They will be the fuel mileage champions…The payload champions…The towing capacity champions…Having a 700 pound weight advantage over your competition provides all kinds of advantages…No rust, high salvage value, easy to recycle…The frame by the way is still steel…They should sell like hot-cakes…

They’ll also be more expensive.
We’ll see how the buyers feel about that.

I’ll reserve judgement until seeing how they hold up among the farmers and oil field people here.
With the whomping they get combined with heavy loads in the bed and rough road flexing I have to wonder about tendencies for aluminum to crack.
Cracks are not a rare thing with airframe structures so I see no reason why a truck should be any different.

Another downside may be the price of beer going up by diverting aluminum from the canning… :slight_smile:

The new, very high CAFE limits drive Ford to do this. The F150 in both 2WD and 4WD is still subject to the CAFE limits. And Ford is currently behind both the Ram 1500 and Siverado C15 in gas mileage.

Well I remember the switch from steel to aluminum in beer cans. It did not take long for the advantages of aluminum in that marketplace- weight and performance- to leave steel cans in the rust.

Im excited to see what happens with the aluminum. Im sure Ford wouldnt invest what they did into retooling everything to build their most popular vehicle if there wasn’t a superior outcome. If all goes well, Chevy will follow, then Dodge.

In cans, weight and performance were secondary issues. The real advantage was can manufacturing costs. Aluminum cans are two pieces. The body is deep drawn, and steel never could provide the malleability required for deep drawing a 12-ounce can. This meant that 3 machine lines were required for the steel can (top, bottom, body), plus a welding operation for the steel body. Then all 3 pieces had to be assembled. With aluminum cans, only 2 machines were required (top, body), assembly was easier with only 2 parts, and less material was needed. Less material meant that the feed stock could be extended to manufacture many more cans. All that is why it was cheaper to make aluminum cans than steel cans even though the steel was initially cheaper.

Here in sunny Florida, especially near one of the coasts, cars tend to rust from the top down. The only vehicles that seem to rust from the bottom up are vehicles (mostly pickup trucks) that are used on boat ramps. Imagine how much longer the aluminum body F150 will last in this type of climate.

if my 75 ford had aluminium floor pans and such I would be sitting pretty as the drive train and mechanical stuff are still solid.

I spent a couple years making steel beer cans and aerosol cans and JT is essentially correct. It was all pretty automated though. I got out of it before aluminum cans became popular. Steel food cans are still popular but the bottle cap business has gone to heck.

If the paint is compromised, aluminum will degrade quickly when exposed to sea water. While it for as a tight oxide, that oxide will get knocked off from time to time and will reoxidize.

I agree with ok4450. I’m guessing that the bodies will not hold up nearly as well as the tried and true steel that manufacturers have used for over 100 years. I suspect they’ll be fine for around town use, but just put one out in the field and see what happens.

I’m also curious how the eco boost turbos are going to hold up after 150,000 miles or so.

It might emerge that two different classes of basically the same truck will evolve, one in aluminum and the other in steel. I know that isn’t the plan now, but time will tell. That might mitigate the overall CAFE numbers while still providing a truck that will stand up to contractors.