Ford gets a aluminum F-150 prepared for primary time

November 12, 2014 - photo frame

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Russell Barnett, a Ford play in Tennessee, is prepared for aluminum.

Ford is regulating a steel roughly exclusively in physique of a 2015 chronicle of a best-selling F-150 pickup, that starts nearing during dealerships subsequent month. Barnett is already responding customers’ questions about a truck. And he’s updated his correct emporium not usually for a F-150, though in expectation that other Ford brands such as a Mustang will eventually make a switch from steel.

But, only in case, he systematic some additional steel-bodied 2014 pickups.

“There will be some people who won’t wish to change for a while,” says Barnett, who says pickups make adult around half of a annual sales during his dealership in farming Winchester.

Ford is doubling down on aluminum, that is lighter — and some-more costly — than steel though only as tough. The new lorry is a company’s response to customers’ requests for a some-more fuel-efficient and nimbler pickup. Ford hopes a advantages transcend patron doubts about a continuance of aluminum or intensity correct costs for a pricier metal.

It’s a large risk. So distant this year, one out of each 3 vehicles Ford sole in a U.S. was an F-Series pickup. Morgan Stanley estimates F-Series trucks comment for 90 percent of Ford’s tellurian automotive profit.

On Tuesday, it kicked off prolongation of a new lorry during a Dearborn Truck Plant, 4 miles from a company’s headquarters.

“Yeah, this is a risk, though it’s one good value taking.” pronounced Bill Ford, a company’s executive chairman, as he stood alongside a public line. “For a customer, this is a big, large jump forward.”

The trucks have been a best-selling vehicles in a U.S. for 32 true years; final year, Ford sole scarcely 100,000 some-more full-size pickups than General Motors.

Aluminum isn’t new to a automobile industry, though this is a initial time it will cover a whole physique of such a high-volume vehicle. Ford done 647,697 F-150 pickups during a dual U.S. plants final year; that’s one each 49 seconds.

If Ford’s gamble pays off, it could pad a lead in a remunerative lorry market. More importantly, aluminum “future proofs” a lorry — and a association — in an epoch of rising fuel economy standards, says Karl Brauer, a comparison researcher with Kelley Blue Book.

Ford will announce a truck’s fuel economy total after this month. That could establish if it steals business divided from a Silverado or Ram. Truck buyers are among a many constant in a automobile market.

Ford says a 2015 lorry will have from 5 percent to 20 percent improved fuel economy that a stream version. A figure in a aloft finish of that operation competence lean some buyers, says Jesse Toprak, arch sales researcher for a automobile shopping site

“If we possess a business and if we demeanour during a numbers, and it’s going to supplement adult over time, afterwards I’ll consider twice about it (switching brands),” Toprak says.

Ford has a waste of introducing a lorry as gas prices are attack a four-year low, with a inhabitant normal now next $3 a gallon. But CEO Mark Fields says even when gas prices were $1.25, lorry buyers still asked for improved fuel economy.

“These vehicles are not only vehicles to a customers. They’re collection to assistance them do their job,” Fields says. “This thing has to deliver.”

Toprak believes that Ford’s biggest risk with a lorry is simply a opposite — lorry buyers don’t know how an aluminum physique will reason adult over time.

When Ginny Pruet, who runs a marriage let business in Rockwall, Texas, motionless to trade in her 2012 F-150 to get one with a backup camera, she chose a 2014.

Pruet, 54, has checked out a 2015 chronicle during automobile shows. She is tender by a new truck’s bells and whistles, like a mobile LED spotlights on a side mirrors. But she’s endangered that aluminum is untested and not value a additional cost. Ford has lifted a cost of a bottom indication by $395 to $26,615, including end fees. A fancier King Ranch chronicle costs $3,615 more.

“We’ll only reason off and find out a greeting to it,” she says.

As with any new vehicle, selling will be key. Toprak says Ford should foster a pivotal advantage of an aluminum body: It won’t rust.

John Krafcik, a boss of a automobile shopping site, points to a truck’s capability. The F-150 sits on a high-strength steel support that’s carrying reduction weight from a truck, so it can lift some-more load and transport heavier trailers. The new F-150 can draw adult to 12,200 pounds compared with 12,000 for a Silverado and 10,500 pounds for a Ram.

Ford is spending some-more than $1 billion to retrofit both public and steel stamping plants. The association also helped dealers such as Barnett with a $30,000 to $50,000 cost to retrofit their correct shops, says mouthpiece Elizabeth Weigandt.

Ford took stairs in a pattern of a lorry that minimize correct costs, Weigandt says. Because of a approach a aluminum is sectioned, for example, a roof doesn’t have to be private to correct to a B-pillar, that sits only behind a front doors.

Jason Cannon 34, a author who lives in Demopolis, Alabama, says he wouldn’t expostulate anything though an F-150.

He would like to get improved fuel economy than a 15 to 16 mpg he averages pushing his 2006 pickup around town. That’s because he’s eyeing a 2015 F-150 with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, a V6 that could give him identical horsepower to his stream V8.

Cannon says he wouldn’t demur to buy aluminum.

“This is an F-150. The record is proven,” he says. “This is a same song, only a opposite verse.”


Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed from Detroit.

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