Ford Motor’s possible plan to use aluminum panels instead of steel panels on F-150 pickups in the future would deliver slightly better fuel economy for the vehicle but will have little effect on the vehicle’s price, experts tell Consumers Digest.
Ford might make the switch to aluminum construction for the F-150 by the 2014 model year, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.
Using aluminum panels instead of steel panels on the F-150 would shave about 800 pounds off the vehicle’s weight and lead to an 8 percent increase in fuel economy, says automotive analyst Richard Schultz of market-research company Ducker Worldwide. But that switch would increase the vehicle’s Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy rating to 18.36 mpg in the city and 24.84 mpg on the highway, compared with a rating of 17/23 mpg on existing models.
In addition, aluminum panels are less prone to rust and dents than are steel panels, experts say.
Nonetheless, aluminum is more expensive than is steel, so the material could add $1,500 to a truck’s manufacturing costs, Schultz says. But he believes that consumers won’t pay extra for aluminum-panel F-150s, because Ford will cut manufacturing costs in other areas, such as by using a standard V6 engine, smaller springs and a smaller suspension system.
Although Ford won’t confirm that it plans to use aluminum panels on the F-150, a switch to aluminum would be another way for the company to meet federal fuel-economy standards by 2025.
Other automakers likely will incorporate aluminum parts in their pickups within the next few years, experts say.
– K. Fanuko