Ford expected to unveil aluminum-bodied F-150
The automaker will switch to a lighter metal for its popular pickup in an effort to improve fuel economy.
It appears what's been rumored for the past several months is about to come to pass: Ford (F) is preparing to unveil an aluminum-bodied version of its best-selling F-150 pickup next month at the Detroit Auto Show.
In July, Motor Trend said Ford was "on a mission to increase fuel economy on its most popular model."
And consumers seemed to respond favorably, too. The company's twin turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine was so popular with F-150 buyers that about 40 percent of F-150s sold have the fuel-efficient EcoBoost, rather than the V-8.
An F-150 with a mostly aluminum body would further help fuel efficiency – reducing the vehicle's overall weight by more than 700 pounds compared with the conventional version. It would also allow the truck to satisfy the federal government's upcoming CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.
"Like alternative drivetrain technology, lightweight materials will be a key component in meeting the fuel economy standards of the future," Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said in an e-mail to Benzinga. "Ford's use of aluminum in the next F150 foreshadows a widespread trend we'll be seeing across every vehicle segment in the coming years."
Bloomberg, meanwhile, reports Ford has asked Alcoa (AA) – which produces high-strength aluminum for battlefield conditions – "to lend some of its military-grade metal for the automaker’s display" at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
Ford is taking a large risk by tinkering with its successful F-150 line. Analysts at the research firm IHS Automotive, according to Bloomberg, believe Ford truck plants could be out of action for up to six weeks at a time as the company tweaks its assembly line machinery and retrains personnel to handle the switch-over to aluminum.
"This is already the most significant debut at the auto show," Joe Langley, a production analyst for IHS Automotive, said in an interview with Bloomberg. "Everybody's going to be dissecting that thing for a long time, especially since Ford will be taking such a big gamble."
Read more from Benzinga:
Top company. Smart. Did not take any bail out money either.
GM took bailout money. Execs still flew private jets. GM has not repaid anything. Still makes CRAP!
Settles it for me...FORD beats GM!
Do the Al body plus the same v6 eco-boost engine in a ranger!
Damn a 300 hp ranger would be fun.
Keep in mind the use and the weight versus...
Both metals can be made to be strong, depending on configuration..
But Steel bends, sometimes ripping as opposed to Aluminum cracking or fracturing.
Although aluminum can warp under extreme heat conditions, and lose shape.
Steel is heavier per volume than Aluminum..
Steel rusts, Aluminum corrodes.
As far as cost difference, hard to say? Depends on fabrication and usage.
Ford needs to sell more than one size truck.
aluminum is very easy to come by. 1/3 the weight of steel.
easy to form so fabrication costs come down too.
Smurf100....Ford or Chevy (GM) is coming out with a small truck again....'14 or '15..
If one does, the other is sure to follow, they want to compete against Asian Marketing.
They should have never stopped...IMO.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
The company is scrambling to protect its equities arm, which could face declining volume and revenue as competitors close the gap.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.