Ford’s Steel F-150 Pickups Could Get Aluminum Body Makeovers To Save On Fuel Costs

Is it the end of the super steely era? Ford is reportedly mulling over a decision to use aluminum panels in its F-150 pickup trucks, which have utilized steel panels since the vehicle’s birth decades ago. The company has already moved toward technology that helps its vehicles save on gas, and this aluminum move is yet another, as it will cut 700 pounds out of the pickup. That’s a lot less truck to move.

The Associated Press says the change will happen with the F-150s appearing on the market in July 2014. It’s a big move, as the pickups are Ford’s cash cow and the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 30 years. Not to mention Ford’s a widespread and devoted customer base which could be resistant to any more  big changes in the beloved vehicles.

Customers have already seemingly taken to things like turbocharged and direct-injected V6 engines on pickups, so perhaps they’re ready for even more changes. And change will happen — as the costs of fuel continue to rise, Ford and other automakers are facing the reality that they must rethink vehicle design and continue to grow or lag behind.

Ford’s F-series marketing manager Mike Levine says it’s “premature” to discuss the next offering in the series, while pointing out that the F-150 has had an aluminum hood since 2004.

“We’re constantly looking at multiple ways to improve our cars and our trucks,” he said.

The lighter the body of the car, the smaller other components like the engine and brakes can be. And the less metal you’re lugging around and burning gas on, the more you’ll save on fuel costs. Taking out all that steel will lead to an increase of about $1,500 to the cost of the truck, however, said Richard Schultz, managing director of consultant Ducker Worldwide, who was briefed on the change by a Ford executive with knowledge of the plans and also conducted a study of the issue.

Any die-hard F-150 devotees out there? Feel free to share your views on the move to steel in the newly-returned comments section.

Ford looking to aluminum for pickups? [Associated Press]
Ford Plans New F-150 with Aluminum Body [Wall Street Journal]

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