by Adam Pockross
When you think about the F-series, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Built Ford Tough, right? It’s been ingrained in our minds, for good reason. And what’s the first thing you think of when you think of the necessary material for building a tough truck? Steel, right? Of course you do; it’s the gold standard.
But even the gold standard got left behind when it became too much of a burden. To metal-some, if you will.
Just like the Feds dropped the gold standard during the Depression, Ford is reportedly dropping steel from the F-series. According to WardsAuto.com, the next-generation F-Series full-size pickup will feature aluminum body panels, including doors and fenders, instead of steel.
No official confirmation thus far, but aluminum body panels does allign with Group Vice President of Global Product Development Derrik Kuzak’s earlier pronouncements that Ford intends to lighten the F-series’ load up to 700 pounds by 2019.
Kuzak’s pronouncement was made in reaction to the new CAFE numbers that the auto industry must live up to, or pay heavily to exceed. Under the new CAFE laws, corporate fleets are supposed to average 31.3 miles per gallon by 2014. Ford’s most fuel efficient 2012 truck is the F150 v6 EcoBoost, which is rated at 19mpg, so obviously, something’s got to give. That something is apparently going to be steel.
While some might worry that aluminum won’t be tough enough to be Built Ford Tough, the aluminum industry is not the same as it used to be, when there were serious concerns about price and durability. This is not your mama’s aluminum industry. So as the next generation of the F-Series looms ever closer (most folks expect it is due in 2014), it makes sense to go with next generation materials. (Although, in all actuality, hoods for the F-series have been aluminum for some time now.)
Less weight on the body means less weight all-around, especially with brakes and powertrains. Less weight all-around means better gas mileage and more cost-effective. And that’s the automotive landscape of the day.
So does this mean we should say goodbye to the golden age? No way. Ford likes having the best-selling trucks in the world, and they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that. Built Ford Tough is the rule. Even with aluminum.
What do you think? Is aluminum tough enough for the F-Series? Shout off in the Forums!