Rumors have abounded regarding the next-generation Ford F-150, due for 2015. Word is that the new truck will heavily utilize aluminum to help boost fuel economy and decrease curb weight. Now, according to our colleagues at Motor Trend, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is adding some fuel to the fire.
Speaking with MT during the Detroit auto show earlier this year, Musk pontificated on the type of aluminum Ford may be using for the new F-150. "From what I’ve heard, they’re using 7000-series aluminum, which is the right step. It’s very strong and light—it’s the same alloy we use to build rockets. There are many different alloys you can use, and a lot of manufacturers use 5000-series aluminum, but 7000 is twice as strong. It can’t be traditionally welded; it must be bonded or mechanically joined or friction welded."
Interesting is Musk's note that the 7000-series aluminum would need a new bonding method versus being traditionally welded. While the F-150 does sell in huge numbers – at 645,316 copies were sold of the F-Series last year, it remained the country's best-selling vehicle – we're not sure if Ford would be willing to cut into the profitable truck's bottom line so substantially. However, better efficiency for the F-150 could translate to even more sales, and using such a high-selling model to pioneer aluminum construction could help with economies of scale.
We do know that Ford will draw on the Atlas Concept from this year's Detroit show (pictured) to inspire the design of the 2015 F-150. Expect the new truck to use active aerodynamic features and to drop roughly 700 lbs from the new construction methods. This weight loss piqued Musk's interest, too: "I’m very curious about how Ford is going about [the new F-150]. Honestly, we may have something to learn. Our chassis is a bit heavy; it could stand to lose a little weight."
Source: Motor Trend