Drive Type: 4x4
Number of Cylinders: 8
Trim: Rock Crawler
Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Aluminum is the new buzzword in the automotive industry. The latest Range Rover and Range Rover Sport both take advantage of the lightweight material to shave huge amounts of body fat (only it's called "aluminium" over there). Audi and Jaguar have been using the stuff for years in their A8 and XJ, respectively, and now, aluminum is going mainstream, arriving on the 2015 Ford F-150.
While we're excited to see aluminum make an impact outside the premium market, its widespread adoption apparently won't come without some problems, notably in terms of supply. "There isn't an automotive manufacturer that makes vehicles in North America that we're not talking to," Tom Boney, of Novelis, the largest global supplier of aluminum sheetmetal, told The Detroit News.
According to Boney, Ford's use of aluminum on such a large scale has forced auto manufacturers in "every boardroom" to reconsider their plans following the F-150's unveiling, for one simple reason: there's not exactly enough aluminum to go around, at least in the short term. The auto industry presently only accounts for six percent of the aluminum sheet produced, but as the material is adopted by more and more brands, that figure is expected to swell to 25 percent within the next six years.
Our new man Greg Migliore is in attendance at a Ford media event at the Blue Oval's Dearborn, MI headquarters today, and he's reported in with a handful of the 2015 F-150 stats that we've been dying to know. Ford is slow-playing the news release here, but we can still offer up some interesting output and performance figures after half-year of waiting.
We have all be quite aware that Ford's shift to aluminum construction would save a lot of weight for F-150 models, and the results we're hearing now are duly impressive. For instance: in Super Crew trim, a 2015 F-150 is a whopping 732-pounds lighter than was its closest 2014-model-year equivalent. That's like hauling three middle-aged dudes to your bowling alley's league night for free. Polish your balls, guys.
Ford isn't willing to offer up any actual curb weights just yet, but if we take that 732-pound loss and extrapolate with the 5,128-pound curb weight of the 2014 F-150 Super Crew with the 3.7-liter V6, we can guesstimate that 2015 models will measure out in the 4,400-pound range. That's impressive.
Ford is rumored to be considering concurrent production for old and new F-150 models in a bid to minimize supply chain disruptions and inventory. Automotive News is reporting that the Blue Oval will build both the current F-150 and its replacement, which we showed you testing just last month, side by side for about half a year before switching over entirely to next-generation production.
As IHS Automotive analyst Mike Jackson told AN, "In order to ramp up, you have to retool...and that means you have to take capacity offline." Building both models alongside could allow Ford to cope with the still strong demand for the current F-150, while populating dealer supplies and working out supply chain kinks for the new model before making a full-time switch.
A loss of capacity when demand is so strong, even for a short period, could spell bad news for Ford, which nets an estimated 90 percent of its global profit on pickups and large SUVs. As AN states, Ford produces the F-150 in both Kansas City, Missouri and Dearborn, Michigan, which allows it to maintain some degree of flexibility in production. The new F-150 is expected to arrive at the 2014 North American International Auto Show as a 2015 model, with a design inspired by the Atlas Concept first shown at the Detroit Auto Show last January.