By 2016, federal laws will mandate that the fleet fuel economy of light trucks and SUV’s will be 30 mpg. Which means manufacturers will need to get their thinking caps on if they are to meet this standard. If they don’t, they’ll have to re-think their position in a very profitable area of the market. Ford, which is synonymous with trucks, is planning a diet.
Pickuptrucks.com reports that Ford is toying with weight saving materials to meet these regulations for its F-150 range. Their sources say that Ford is looking at re-engineering a new platform which uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy. And gasp, to the abject horror of the “true truck” crowd, Ford could retire some of its body-on-steel ladder frame. To ensure stiffness, Ford is expected to have some elements of unibody construction, but will keep the cargo box and cab separate. Aluminum will be used in the body panels, but the interior of the cargo box will still be steel.
In combination with the all-new engines which Ford developed for the current F-150’s, the slim-fest should do something to the fuel economy. At the cost of another economy: Those space-age alloys sound awfully expensive.