Ford is betting big with the aluminum bodied 2015 F-150, and next up on the Blue Oval diet is the Ford Explorer and Expedition. Replacing the steel bodies with aluminum could shave off hundreds of pounds, and when combined with Ford’s EcoBoost engines, these full-size vehicles could pull down some impressive MPGs.
The jump from steel bodies to aluminum helped the 2015 Ford F-150 shed as much as 700 pounds compared to the older model. That’s a tremendous amount of weight to lose, and when coupled with a new 2.7 liter EcoBoost “Nano” V6, could give the F-150 as much as 30 MPG on the highway. However, all that aluminum comes at an additional cost both up front, and for when its time for body repairs.
Ford believes the benefits outweigh the costs though, and already other Ford vehicles are embracing aluminum, or even carbon fiber parts. The 2015 Mustang gets an aluminum hood and front fenders, for example, though larger vehicles like the Explorer and recently-refreshed Ford Expedition stand to benefit even more.
An added benefit, at least from Ford’s point of view, is the price premium built into both vehicles, which makes hiding the additional cost of the aluminum body easier. In the competitive truck market, cost-sensitive customers could shy away from the F-150, depending on where the MSRP settles.