Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Aluminum Technology - Ford F150

Ford Motor Company recently revealed the all new aluminum body F Series pickup.  The best selling pickup in America as been made with steel components up until now.  Ford is taking a leadership position and has developed a truck using aluminum to construct the entire body.  Saving some 700 pounds of weight and increasing fuel economy in the process.  The newly designed truck will be available sometime late this year as a 2015 model.
In the U.S. the federal government Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules require manufacturers to improve miles per gallon over their entire fleet of vehicles sold in the U.S. to government mandated numbers or face a penalty for every tenth of a gallon below the number on every vehicle sold.  CAFE numbers for full size trucks are 23.5 in 2015 going up to 30 in 2025.  The EPA number on the sticker needs to be 18 in 2015 and up to 23 by 2025.  So you can see the need to take bold steps to change the process and materials to gain the numbers required.

However, there maybe a trade off coming.  According to information released yesterday aluminum body technology is fairly new unless you consider German manufacturers who have used it for years.  For example the Audi line has aluminum body vehicles as does Land Rover.  Unfortunately only 10% of the body repair shops in America are certified to work on aluminum body vehicles.  To be certified you must have specially trained technicians using special equipment to perform the necessary repairs.  Dents and dings that can be fixed on a steel body vehicle will likely require panel replacement on the aluminum vehicle.  At the moment, aluminum is more expense than steel however Ford representatives have said that this new truck will sell in the same pricing range as the 2014 truck.  They did not confirm  the pricing with any solid numbers.

Another recent development is the cost to insure an aluminum vehicle verses a steel vehicle.  Most insurance companies charge a premium rate for insurance on aluminum skinned vehicles.  It will be interesting to see what happens once the new F Series truck hits the road.

Will customers disregard the higher insurance costs for more miles per gallon?  What will the residual be on a lease?  What will the resale value be?  All questions to be answered down the road.

No comments:

Post a Comment