- Next Ford F-150 expected to use aluminum construction
- Aluminum will save weight and improve gas mileage
- We'll know more next year, as the 2015 F-150 draws closer
Ford will likely shave weight from its next F-150 pickup by using aluminum construction. The material, which is already used in some cars and SUVs, could trim several hundred pounds from the F-150, improve the truck's gas mileage and offer a more carlike ride.
While Ford has not yet confirmed that it will use aluminum in the next F-150, the step is a logical -- if radical -- choice for the automaker. That's because there's an ever-increasing focus on gas mileage these days, even in the world of full-size pickups. And while Ford's EcoBoost V6 has certainly improved the F-150's fuel economy, aluminum would go even further to eke out extra miles per gallon.
And exactly how would aluminum benefit gas mileage? Simple: It saves weight. Land Rover boosted its use of aluminum construction in the all-new Range Rover, for instance, and saved 700 pounds in the process. The result is a vehicle that gets substantially better gas mileage than its predecessor, despite being longer, wider and larger.
Another benefit of aluminum over steel is a more carlike ride. As vehicles drop pounds, they become more easily maneuverable. That's even true with a full-size truck such as the F-150, whose handling will likely improve with the use of aluminum.
The drawbacks? Admittedly, there are a few. An obvious one is crash repair. Aluminum isn't as easy to repair as steel, and it's more costly, too. The same goes for construction, as aluminum panels are more expensive to manufacture than traditional steel. That means an aluminum F-150 may be more expensive to buy -- and fix -- than a current model.
But we're not expecting Ford to put aluminum on every surface of the F-150. Instead, we think the material will be used in just a few body panels and the bed -- easy places to save weight where the typical driver will probably never notice.
We'll have more information as the 2015 Ford F-150 draws closer to production, which will likely be sometime next year.
What it means to you: If you're looking for the most efficient truck on the market, you might want to consider waiting to see what Ford has to say about its latest F-150.