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Library - Auto Extrusions Continue Growth in 2017

From Workhouse to Exotic: Extrusions Continue their Automotive Growth in 2017

February 2017

UPDATE: F-250 receives NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

 

The 2017 F-250 Crew Cab 4x2 heavy-duty pickup was the only one in its segment to earn the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) highest safety rating, scoring 5 stars overall, with 5-star ratings in front and side crash tests, and a 4-star rating in the rollover category.


The rating for the new aluminum-intensive heavy-duty truck improved on the 4-star performance registered by the 2016 model.


The Crew Cab 4x4 earned a 4-star overall rating, with 5 stars in frontal and side crash tests and a 3-star rating in the rollover category. The rest of the F-250 Series has yet to be tested.

 

      Related: Ford F-150 receives top safety rating from IIHS


January 2017

 

Over the past few years, as automakers have worked to reduce vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency, the use of extrusions in autos has grown significantly. From 2012 to 2015, the weight of aluminum extruded components used per vehicle built in North America has increased nearly 25%. Of course, Ford’s groundbreaking aluminum intensive F-150 pickup, North America’s highest selling vehicle, was introduced during that period, but even if you take the F-150 out of the equation, per-vehicle extrusion use increased more than 20% during the ’12-’15 time frame.


A look at two new 2017 offerings – Acura’s stunning NSX 'supercar' and Ford’s Super Duty trucks (the F-150’s big brothers) shows the contribution that extrusions are making to a wide range of vehicles. Both are gaining critical acclaim, with Motor Trend naming the Super Duty its “Truck of the Year” for 2017 and Road & Track designating the NSX as its “Performance Car of the Year”.

The NSX is an exotic hybrid, with three electric motors and a mid-vehicle gasoline engine teaming up to offer over 570 horsepower. The body is a multi-material design with body panels applied to a space frame comprised of aluminum extrusions, high-strength steel, aluminum sheet, and innovative ablation cast aluminum frame nodes. The nodes provide suspension mounting points and are vital to energy absorption in case of impact.

 

Extrusions account for most of the space frame and are used for front and rear frame rails, side rails, numerous cross members and frame members for the front and rear bulkheads; 38 of these extrusions are filled with spray foam to provide improved noise control. Extrusions are also used to create the structure for the instrument panel (IP), with multiple extruded components joined to form the IP.


 

Just as the new NSX builds on Acura’s experience with the aluminum intensive prior version, Ford’s new Super Duty trucks build on Ford’s experience with the F-150. The new Super Duty models (F-250, F-350 and F-450), incorporate the architecture of the F-150, with an aluminum body on a high strength steel frame. Again, extrusions play a major role in the cab structure, acting as front rails and cross members.

 


 

And as with the F-150, significant weight reductions are achieved. With the Super Duty, however, Ford has chosen to “reinvest” much of the weight savings in heavier duty frame, axles, and brakes in order to achieve leading towing capacity and performance. At the same time, meaningful improvements in fuel economy have been realized.

 

What’s next from Ford? The 2018 Expedition SUV will be following the aluminum-intensive path, and there is speculation that the just-announced revival of the Bronco will be aluminum based as well.

 

For more information, there are some terrific videos on the design and manufacturing of these important vehicles at:

www.nsxoriginals.com/acura/en

 
www.ford.com/trucks/super-duty/2017/gallery



Image credits:
Media.ford.com; Acuranews.com

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