Ford: “We Actually Contacted Bear People, and They Use Aluminum Cages!”
You’ve seen the silly TV and YouTube ads where Chevy employs the help of an average Joe and a massive bear to talk smack about aluminum and the Ford F-150. Many opinions have emerged since then, but not a lot of facts.
Earlier this week I found myself in an auditorium at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan for a yearly conference called “Further with Ford.” I listened as various Ford executives gave speeches regarding the future of the company, but to be honest, it had been a long few days prior to that early morning, and after my third consecutive speaker I was yawning more than I should admit to.
Then—Raj Nair, Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technical Officer, took the spotlight and woke me back up. First of all, he was wearing a Ford GT racing team jacket, which was pretty cool, and then he spoke about the more; interesting and fun subjects regarding Ford Motor Company, but it wasn’t until the moderator asked him about Ford’s move to aluminum that things got really interesting.
While speaking of industry disruptors and making big bets for the future, Nair was asked about how costly and risky the move to aluminum was, and how difficult it’s been to get consumers to buy into the idea. Nair said that it was in fact, risky, but it’s paid off so far, and that there are no regrets on Ford’s behalf. He paused for a second and then randomly said, “You know, the funny thing is that, we actually contacted bear people, and it turns out their cages are made of aluminum!”
For title clarification, by “bear people,” he meant bear handlers, not man-bear mutants. Such statement made me think, what if, I called a few bear handlers and simply asked them? After all, I don’t think Raj Nair is lying, but it’d be great to hear it from their own mouths. As you can imagine, there aren’t that many bear handlers available for interview, and even less that are willing to provide an official response to be published to the public; as was the case with my local zoo.
So, I used the power of the internet to research a few things about heavy-duty cages, more specifically for bears and sharks. As it turns out, modern high-quality cages are built using aluminum. Now, for the record, I’m not saying all cages are built using aluminum, I’m saying newer and high quality cages are. In fact, there’s an article by Popular Mechanics titled, “Here’s Why Cage Divers Don’t Become Shark Bait,” and it’s solely based on the fact that lightweight and strong aluminum performs much better than outdated steel.
Another video by, National Geographic, shows a man strap himself inside an aluminum cage in order to get up close to a massive bear to learn more about him. Now, Popular Mechanics and National Geographic aren’t exactly small-time sources, they are the sources. Even then, I had nearly given up on finding professional-grade bear cages for sale (they’re not on Ebay or Craigslist), when I finally came across a reputable builder that sells… you guessed it, aluminum cages for polar bears! In Chevy’s defense, these aluminum cages do features stainless steel locking wheels, which make up about 0.5% of the entire cage.
So there you have it, next time someone ridicules your F-150 for being a “beer can,” shove these facts in their face. Oh, and tell them Chevy sucks.
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Photos via: [@DrivesWGirls, NatGeo, Popular Mechanics]