Ford Is Still Ahead in the Aluminum Technology Game
Ford’s innovative updates to its trucks, including 2015’s aluminum body, seem to have quieted Ram and Chevy. What’s that all about?
In 2014, when asked about when Fiat Chrysler could respond to the aluminum-bodied F-150, CEO Sergio Marchionne told USA Today that “We’ll make the deadline. We can do aluminum in ’17…We have the technology in-house.” Yet the 2019 Ram 1500 uses mainly steel with a “selective” mix of aluminum and composite materials. According to Mike Manley, Head of Ram Brand they use 98% high-strength steel in the frame and 54% in the bed and cab.
As for Chevy, well, the Bow Tie has flat out said it won’t be going with aluminum. In fact, they’ve even been trying to use attack advertising on aluminum to damage Ford’s sales. That didn’t work out so well, with F-Series trucks outselling the Silverado by more than 300,000 units last year. It’s also interesting to note that GM saw an 80% increase in the profitability of their trucks since 2013. They also expect the next generation of trucks to be even more profitable.
The move to aluminum has played out very well for Ford. Something that doesn’t usually happen without the other two following. The numbers back up Ford’s decision as well. Ford has boosted their ownership of the truck market to 37.8 percent since moving to Aluminum. On top of that, transaction prices have been rising as well.
Ford has demonstrated through both sales and happy truck owners that pushing the material and build technology forward has worked. In fact, it’s worked so well that Ford has also expanded their use of aluminum to Super Duty trucks.
Back in May 2014, Ford’s Program Analyst Alana Strager said: “Ford is teaching the world how to build a next-generation truck, and the more than 100 patents filed by the F-150 team for technologies on the 2015 truck further proves these Ford engineers and designers lead the automotive industry in innovation.”
Apparently, Ford is teaching but the others aren’t listening. It looks like Dodge is concentrating on powertrains while GM wants Chevy to concentrate on keeping costs down to maximize profit. So, maybe we should expect to see less broken down Rams, but more rust to appear even sooner on Chevy trucks.