The next Ford F-150 might be a bit lighter than today’s model: The Wall Street Journal reports that the new truck will have aluminum-intensive construction.
It’s no secret that Ford is on a tear to push up fuel economy on its most popular model–it already gives buyers the option of swapping out a V-8 engine for a thriftier twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine. So far the EcoBoost engine has been very popular with F-150 buyers, to the point where about 40 percent of F-150s sold have the engine. But boosting fuel economy from here is no easy feat. If Ford engineers really want to increase fuel economy, they’ll have to make the Ford F-150 lighter or more aerodynamic.
Enter The Wall Street Journal, which reports that the next Ford F-150 will bow in 2014 with a body largely made from aluminum. The WSJ says that the move will help Ford hit government-mandated fuel economy guidelines, and save as much as 700 pounds from the F-150′s curb weight.
There are a couple of issues with this, of course. Truck buyers are notoriously leery of changes to their vehicles that could sacrifice towing/hauling or overall strength. But the success of the downsized EcoBoost engine–coincidentally made out of aluminum–would suggest that fuel economy might win over more buyers than perceived strength. Ford is also keen to remind everyone that the lower control arms of the F-150 SVT Raptor–Ford’s toughest truck in terms of off-road capability–are also made of aluminum, as are all F-150 hoods made since 2004.
The other issue is cost: adding huge amounts of aluminum to the traditionally steel-based Ford F-150 could jack up the price by some $1500, a price hike not everyone will welcome.
Ford wouldn’t confirm the authenticity of the rumor, calling it “premature,” but added that “we’re already a leader in using aluminum in full-size pickups, and we’re constantly looking to use technology to improve fuel economy.”
Source: Wall Street Journal