WASHINGTON, D. C., November 18, 1999 – Kentucky has six million reasons to celebrate as the result of action by the U.S. Congress. Research at the University of Louisville will be accelerated for development of truck technologies with Ford Motor Company for potential use by the U.S. Department of Defense in tactical military trucks. The just enacted Defense Appropriations bill includes $6 million in fiscal year 2000 for the research effort. This supports the “Improved Materials and Powertrain Architectures for 21st Century Trucks” (IMPACT) program for the U. S. Army, aimed at developing lightweight, fuel efficient, corrosion resistant, low cost trucks for commercial and military use.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a great deal to gain from the IMPACT initiative,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, a member of the Republican Congressional leadership and the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Ford builds many of its larger pickup trucks in Louisville and the U.S. Army is a major user of military trucks on its large bases in the state.” McConnell led Senate efforts for the research project.
Rep. Anne Northup, R-KY, who represents Louisville, championed the IMPACT project in the US. House of Representatives. The IMPACT program will focus on the use of high-strength steel, laser welded blanks and improved bonding to significantly reduce the weight of a Ford F-Series–the best selling truck in North America–for potential military application.
Ford has selected the University of Louisville to lead research on light truck architectures for the project. “IMPACT will directly benefit Louisville by promoting and increasing our truck research and manufacturing competencies,” said John W. Shumaker, President of the University of Louisville.
We are pleased to partner with the University of Louisville on this important research effort,” said Ford Kentucky Truck Plant Manager Frank Foley. “Quality and teamwork are our top priorities, whether we’re talking about building trucks or building relationships with our employees, our union or community organizations.”
Foley said Ford engineers will assist in the University research which eventually could provide a competitive advantage to the Kentucky Truck Plant if the US Army decides to purchase the next generation of fuel efficient trucks from Ford.
Andrew G. Sharkey, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said the steel industry is “encouraged by its efforts in developing new steel technologies and is pleased about partnering with well-known leaders in automotive design such as Ford and the University of Louisville.”
Improved corrosion resistance will result in a longer service life with less maintenance, and tactical military trucks based on commercial vehicle platforms will yield significant cost savings compared to vehicles built for a single purpose.
After successful completion of the program’s initial phase, Ford will consider extending the lightweight and mobility technologies to the F250 and F350 truck platforms, which are built at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant.