The next Ford F-150 might be a bit lighter than today's model: The Wall Street Journal reports that the new truck will have aluminum-intensive construction.
It's no secret that Ford is on a tear to push up fuel economy on its most popular model--it already gives buyers the option of swapping out a V-8 engine for a thriftier twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine. So far the EcoBoost engine has been very popular with F-150 buyers, to the point where about 40 percent of F-150s sold have the engine. But boosting fuel economy from here is no easy feat. If Ford engineers really want to increase fuel economy, they'll have to make the Ford F-150 lighter or more aerodynamic.
Enter The Wall Street Journal, which reports that the next Ford F-150 will bow in 2014 with a body largely made from aluminum. The WSJ says that the move will help Ford hit government-mandated fuel economy guidelines, and save as much as 700 pounds from the F-150's curb weight.
There are a couple of issues with this, of course. Truck buyers are notoriously leery of changes to their vehicles that could sacrifice towing/hauling or overall strength. But the success of the downsized EcoBoost engine--coincidentally made out of aluminum--would suggest that fuel economy might win over more buyers than perceived strength. Ford is also keen to remind everyone that the lower control arms of the F-150 SVT Raptor--Ford's toughest truck in terms of off-road capability--are also made of aluminum, as are all F-150 hoods made since 2004.
The other issue is cost: adding huge amounts of aluminum to the traditionally steel-based Ford F-150 could jack up the price by some $1500, a price hike not everyone will welcome.
Ford wouldn’t confirm the authenticity of the rumor, calling it "premature," but added that "we're already a leader in using aluminum in full-size pickups, and we're constantly looking to use technology to improve fuel economy."
Source: Wall Street Journal