Seeing as weight has long been the Achilles’ heel of full-size trucks, Ward’s Auto reports that Ford will be taking fuel economy head-on in the next generation F-150 by making extensive use of weight-saving materials like aluminum as it seeks to meet increasingly strict fuel economy standards.
Ward’s Auto reports that the next generation F-Series, set to debut in 2014, will use aluminum mainly in the truck’s body panels to cut weight. The current F-150 weighs in around 5600 lbs and like its competitors, makes extensive use of steel body panels, save for the F-150’s hood which is made out of aluminum.
This isn’t the first murmur we’ve heard about weight saving in the next generation Ford F-150. Back in November of 2010, Pickuptrucks.com reported that Ford will not only use aluminum body panels in the F-150, but would also make extensive use of magnesium in the truck. According to Pickuptrucks, the use of magnesium would curb weight by 36 percent compared to aluminum and 78 percent compared to iron. The move to magnesium wouldn’t be unprecedented either; Ford reportedly shaved 22 lbs from the Lincoln MKT’s tailgate by using magnesium and aluminum instead of steel. Weight savings like that add up.
Ford Truck Communication Manager Mike Levine tells us, “As we outlined four years ago, we intend to be a leader in lightweighting as a means to improve the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks. While it is too early to discuss details, we always look to apply the right material at the right time to support our product needs in lightweighting.”
So why the fuss over weight savings? The answer is simple: looming CAFE standards. The EPA’s CAFE standards for 2014 require a fleet-wide vehicle average of 31.3 mpg. A year later, automakers need to meet a 32.6 mpg target, and then in 2016 a 34.1 mpg average. Aside from smaller engines and the use of forced-induction and direct-injection, saving weight is key to meeting the EPA’s targets. The rumors from Ford are likely the first of many we’ll hear from the Blue Oval and its crosstown rivals as the next generation of full-size pickups get ready to do battle.