|Library: Ford F-150|
It was January 1948 when Ford introduced their first F-series pickup, its first new design since the War. It quickly became a hit with farmers, ranchers and contractors looking for a tough, durable work vehicle - yet one that also offered "living room comfort", as Ford touted the redesigned cab. The '48 F-1 led Ford to its highest truck production since 1929.
Ford's F-series has continued to be a market favorite with its combination of "Built Ford Tough" working performance and the comfort and amenities that suburban buyers demand. Not only the best-selling truck, the F-150, the F-1's successor, has been America's best-selling vehicle for 32 continuous years, with unit sales of over 760,000 in 2013.
Now, exactly 66 years after the launch of the F-1, Ford is introducing the groundbreaking 12th generation of its F-series - the 2015 F-150 with its landmark aluminum construction. With its shift from steel to aluminum body panels, and increased use of aluminum extrusions, the new F-150 sheds somewhere between 500 to 700 pounds, depending on the model. That translates into improved fuel economy (mileage has not been announced, but a rule of thumb is that a 100-pound weight decrease yields a 1 mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency improvement), improved performance, and increased carrying/hauling capacity. Of course, being aluminum, the new F-150 will be resistant to rust. And, says Ford, the aluminum body - utilizing alloys similar to those used on military vehicles - is more dent and ding resistant than conventional steel.
Ford knew that the durability of the aluminum body could be an issue in buyers' minds, so they tested a disguised F-150 in the Baja 1000 off-road race without issues, and made trucks with the new aluminum cargo box available for use by construction, mining and energy companies - who logged 300,000 miles over two years - again without issues.
But aluminum doesn't only appear in the F-150's skin. While the truck rides on a frame of high-strength steel, there are a host of aluminum extrusions that provide the body structure.
According to a recent article in Reuters: “Among the most important changes is the front structure that holds the fender, Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley said. This piece is no longer welded, and can be taken off the truck, shaving six to seven hours from average repair time on that part.”
Of course, there is more to the new F-150 than just its breakthrough use of aluminum extrusions and sheet. Ford is rolling out new powertrains and a long list of new convenience features. In Ford's words, it all adds up to a smarter, tougher, more capable truck.
For more information about the new F-150, go to www.ford.com/trucks/f150/2015.
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Platts Aluminum Symposium 2017