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Built Tough? Ford Trucks Made with Aluminum

September 21, 2012

Ford Motor Company is taking a risk that may be as big as Henry Ford’s risk to undo the horse and buggy society of the 18th Century.  In a move to meet new government fuel –economy standards, the company has decided to redesign their F-150 truck with a lighter metal – aluminum.

This move will require Ford to not only to change the metals they use to build their classic pick-up truck, but also to retool their manufacturing processes and more importantly convince their loyal truck customers that being built of aluminum is as “tough” as being built with steel.  Globally, the F-series is one of the most profitable vehicles. In fact in 2011, a third of Ford’s $8.8 billion global operating profit came from sales of the F-series trucks.  Tinkering with this valuable Ford asset is a high-rolling risk for the company

But the switch to a lighter metal will reduce the weight of their F-150 truck by 700 pounds, about a 15% cut in weight.  This slimming down will give Ford trucks better fuel efficiency.  It also allows the company to introduce smaller engines that can boost the number of miles per gallon.

The redesign is being made for their 2014 model F-150s.  The new pick-up will provide roughly a 25% improvement in fuel economy.  This keeps the company on track to meet the new regulations that require the U.S. vehicle fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  Currently the 2012 F-150 four-wheel drive with a 3.5 liter V6 engine gets about 17 miles per gallon (combined city and highway mileage).

Besides Ford Motor Co., other auto companies both in the United States and overseas are gearing up to design their trucks and cars with lighter metals to meet new fuel economy standards.  This in turn is generating increased production of automotive sheet aluminum.  Continental Steel and Tube looks forward to playing an essential part of this new wave of car and truck redesign.  With a full inventory of all things steel, whether stainless or electrical, as well as of titanium and aluminum products, Continental Steel and Tube will continue serving automakers for many more years beyond its 25 year track record.

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