Posted Jul 27th 2012 1:00PM
Ford is rolling the dice in a big way in the name of fuel efficiency. According to The Wall Street Journal, the automaker intends to utilize aluminum for the body of its next-generation F-150.
In order to meet tightening fuel economy regulations, FoMoCo is reportedly turning to the lightweight material, which could cut curb weight by a whopping 700 pounds (318 kg). That roughly 15-per cent drop in weight could mean a 25-per cent increase in fuel economy in tandem with the use of more efficient engines.
While there may be manufacturing hurdles in switching over to aluminum, perhaps more difficult will be determining its impact on sales. The 2013 F-150, shown above is a top-seller and it is uncertain how diehard truck buyers will react to the move away from steel.
Also of concern, utilizing aluminum in a major way will bring up the manufacturing price of the pickup. In a segment where toughness and price point are king, a lighter truck with a higher MSRP could cause problems, with the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 hot on the F-150's heels.
Across the industry, automakers are turning to creative ways to reduce fuel consumption. Seeing this push for the efficiency, Novelis, the world's top producer in sheet aluminum, is planning to triple its capacity.
Ford has not yet said how much of the next-gen light duty pickup will be aluminum. We will watch this closely to see how this new, lighter, F-150 comes together.