2015 F-150 Could Reshape The Repair Industry
The 2015 Ford F-150 will be a mostly aluminum pickup truck and the first large-scale rollout of aluminum vehicles, which could seriously change the automotive landscape. Some luxury automakers have produced aluminum cars and been successful at it, but only in limited quantities. Ford is betting that large numbers of average Americans will embrace aluminum in place of steel.
While the 2015 F-150 wiill still have a high-strength steel frame, many of the remaining parts will be made of aluminum, which has many advantages, chiefly being that aluminum is much lighter. An aluminum F-150 will weigh up to seven hundred pounds less than the current model, and the lower weight will in turn reduce the need for larger, heavier engines and other parts, in turn improving the gas mileage. Better gas mileage is very appealing. Every time I go to the pump I think about how much gas costs.
However, aluminum is also more expensive. Estimates are that the 2015 F-150 will cost about $1500 more due to the aluminum, although that price is not certain yet. It’s likely that the savings in gas will make up for the increased cost of the truck, but what about replacement parts? Getting a new door or bumper will also cost more due to the price of aluminum, and Ford dealers are going to have to invest in expensive equipment and training in order to fix these new Fords, though the 2015 F-150 is designed to be easily repairable compared to previous models.
And that brings me to my big concern about switching to aluminum. A lot of truck owners buy them for their practical aspects. Any car will do if you’re just picking up a few bags of mulch from the garden center, but if you want a ton or two of mulch, you need a pickup. Contractors especially need a sturdy truck to haul equipment and materials for remodeling homes or landscaping.
Aluminum can be tough, as evidenced by its use in combat vehicles. No matter how careful we are, our trucks get dented. Sometimes the dents are bad enough that they need repair. Aluminum body parts will increase the cost of replacements and finding a body shop with experience repairing aluminum will be difficult in the first several years of aluminum pickup trucks, and also probably more expensive.
Like I said, good and bad. Better gas mileage? Great! More expensive parts and labor? Not so great. Time will tell which has more impact on the choices of F-150 buyers.
Source: Road & Track