By on January 28, 2014

2015-ford-f-150

Own a Ford dealership with a repair shop? Should your mechanics and body repair crew desire to the ability to repair the new aluminium F-150, then prepare to seek certification with a substantial price tag.

At a National Automobile Dealers Association meeting this weekend, the Blue Oval announced a certification program for Ford dealers with repair shops in order to be able to work on the new F-150s. The program — which includes tooling upgrades alongside training — will range between $30,000 and $50,000, though Ford will pitch in with $10,000 for each dealership’s shop upgrade and certification.

The move goes against an earlier statement made by the automaker, which did not require dealer-owned repair facilities to be certified to work on the aluminum-bodied truck. However, the certification is in line with requirements from German automakers whose lineups include vehicles heavily utilizing the metal.

Dealers who opt for certification claim that by doing so, they would have exclusivity — and more business — around F-150 repairs such as the ones that might be required by the new F-150. Ford also hopes the strategy pays off for their dealer network’s shops, as 80 percent of repair work performed on their offerings are done by independent repair shops.

Ford also outlined its strategy for making the vehicle easier to repair, with the trucks being built in a modular fashion that allows for a cheaper, easier method of replacing damaged components. Aside from ease of repair, Ford also aimed at keeping insurance premiums in line with the current truck, so as not to ward off buyers who feared excessive insurance costs.

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117 Comments on “Ford Repair Shops to Undergo Mandatory Certification For Aluminium F-150s...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Godspeed, early adopters (aka Guinea Pigs)!

  • avatar

    Aren’t insurance premiums gonna go up?

    Isn’t Aluminum not only more expensive than steel – but harder to fix?

    Is anyone going to stop Liberals from forcing all of us into unsafe econoboxes?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      An aluminum F-150 is an unsafe econobox?

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Friggin’ Liberals, always forcing manufacturers to make cars that weigh a pound and run on unicorn farts. Oh wait, Ford chose to do it on their own? Nevermind then. (BTW, I consider myself a Liberal)

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      @Bigtrucks

      Clearly the trend with automobiles is that they are becoming more expensive (inflation adjusted), less safe (more HS steels/Al), more polluting (moving to BIN 6 soon), harder to repair (OBD systems), and less desirable (as car sales grow ~30% YoY).

      Premiums may go up, yes, but the stuff is also much harder to dent (less likely to need fixing). Aluminum is both more expensive and harder to fix, but this is taken care of by consuming less fuel, reducing the grade of springs/suspension components/other drivetrain bits because of lower weight. I won’t even give your last point a mention, because you have to be beyond misinformed to think that roadway fatalities per mile is increasing.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        More high strength steel and aluminum makes cars less safe? You should write a journal paper – SAE, ASME and AIAA would all be interested.

        I would be interested in how they plan to do welded repairs (if any are allowed in stressed regions) of aluminum – had to have addressed it and eventually it’ll come out what level of repair is allowed.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Bigtruck
      Actually, an aluminium vehicle will probably be safer.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I doubt it will make much difference in premiums. My Range Rover, which has lots of aluminum in its construction, is no more expensive to insure than the Grand Cherokee it replaced. And both were more than my decade newer BMW…

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      No metal is inherently safe or unsafe. How the material is engineered is what matters. Depending on alloying, treatment, and forming technique, aluminum can be made stronger than an equivalent piece of steel. 60 years of aluminum bodied B-52s keeping the reds in check and 40 years of aluminum bodied Huey helicopters getting shot at kind proves reliability and strength.

      Resistance to technological advancement retards civilization.

      • 0 avatar

        Flying a helicopter and having it hit with bullets isn’t the same as HITTING A TREE or being hit by an SUV.

        The liberals are trying to force “urban planning” on us where bike paths rule and people RENT cars rather than own.

        They’ll take my HEMI from my cold dead hands…

        • 0 avatar
          Atum

          I love you. Most of your comments should get a +1000.

        • 0 avatar
          toxicroach

          Yeah, getting shot in a helicopter is a hell of a lot worse.

          I can’t tell if you’re trolling or what, but I fail to see the horror in people getting some exercise instead of getting fatter in an Suburban, or saving the 7 or 8 grand it costs to own a car for a year and instead renting it when needed. There’s nothing stopping you from doing what you want, but the world does not revolve around your preference for super sized vehicles.

          • 0 avatar

            ” I fail to see the horror in people getting some exercise instead of getting fatter in an Suburban, or saving the 7 or 8 grand it costs to own a car for a year and instead renting it when needed.”

            If I wanna walk or rent or buy IT SHOULD BE MY CHOICE. The reason you don’t understand what I’m talking about is the fundamental difference in my politics and yours.

            I want a big car.
            I want a powerful car.
            I want a car whether the liberals call it “green” or not.
            I shouldn’t be forced into an aluminum econobox with an EGOboost engine by the GOVERNMENT, or by some bike-riding, tree-hugging, Tesla Model S-masturbatin’ hippy.

            DETROIT does big, heavy, gas-guzzlers well. Trucks and cars. The government forcing them to a 50mpg standard is only going to make them less competitive.

            Remember how SUV’s came about? They were created to get around CAFE laws. Detroit was making a killing on SUV’s and trucks.

            I refuse to go down so easily. Let the government put you and your family in a little Fiat, Fiesta or Mini Cooper.

            But you’d better stay out of the left lane when you see a Black on Black HEMI in your rear view cause I’m not playing that hypermiling nonsense.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            So don’t buy one. There are plenty of other trucks on the market. Not everyone has to build the vehicles you like. There are those of us that value innovative products. I shouldn’t be forced to buy a rolling look-at-me-I have-a-large-penis mobile because that is what you like either.

            And since you broached the subject, the closest I have come to biting it in a vehicle was when a very small projectile penetrated the 32 ton armored vehicle I was operating. I have hit a tree in a Ford Ranger and it was considerably less scary than that or taking fire in a Helicopter.

            Also, the left lane is for passing. Everyone should stay out of it be they in a black on black Hemi, a pink on pink Prius, or an Desert Tan on OD Green Abrams Tank unless they are passing.

            You sir, speaketh out of your Ass!

            And BTW, Masterbutation is likely one of the few things conservatives and hippies have in common. I know I did it regardless of which political ideology phase of life I was in.

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            @BigTrucks

            I’ll bite. There are massive externalities involved in driving that are currently “free”. Parking. Emissions (including CO2). Required military spending. An underfunded highway/waterway/railway/transit fund.

            Would you support raising the gas tax in lieu of using CAFE? Because I would. That would be much more straight forward than what we currently do.

            You don’t have to believe me on the above, but you would be simply wrong. We normally go through the citations process, but I do that fairly regularly and most of them are a google search away.

            Urban planning is simply the idea that putting something together in an orderly manner is better then haphazardly throwing it together. I for one am glad they make plans and conduct studies and use the tax funds I give them in a manner other than “chuck it at the wall and see what sticks”.

            Finally, your background is not in engineering. It would be quite simply impossible to graduate any program involving professors with such a poor understanding of how solid mechanics works. You can thank an engineer for saving your life in that armored vehicle. He knew what he was talking about.

            I’m never really sure if you’re trolling or if people like you actually exist. Unwilling to concede they don’t know something, willfully ignorant of the risks they put others in, and generally abrasive.

            I’m glad you’re in New York.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The irony, Big Truck, is that you put money in the Statists’ pockets when you buy your UAW-mobiles. It’s as bad as voting for them.

          • 0 avatar
            toxicroach

            It is your choice.

            Hell, bike lanes and car sharing reduce the # of cars on the road, making your experience on the road better.

            What you don’t seem to get is that the current state of the road is not some natural state; it’s the result of the same GOVERNMENT making policy decisions that almost exclusively favored cars, much to the detriment of the citizens of our cities. How many hours does the average city dweller spend sitting in traffic jams, or fighting for parking because it’s difficult and dangerous to ride a bike, or even walk since so many roads don’t even have a sidewalk?

            Encouraging non-car transportation isn’t some horrible government plot; it’s an acknowledgment that the previous policy has created some serious problems and that opening up non-car transportation options would reduce gridlock, not to mention improving air pollution and all kinds of other benefits.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            CJ caught BTS dead-to-rights on this one. In today’s political climate, no self-respecting Conservative should own a Detroit product – it’s like literally handing cash and power to your sworn enemy.

        • 0 avatar
          morbo

          That’s a False Cannard. I live in metro DC, the heart of urban planning USA. I am surrounded by bike trails and use a monthly bike rentals service (Capitol Bikeshare). And I own a HEMI Chrysler 300C.

          It’s never one or the other. There are always options. Painting the situation as some dire fight for freedom obscures real solutions to our problems, such as supporting oil-rich despots through military adventurism, real ecological damage from oil extraction (I’m talk water/soil damage and not the greenhouse gas nonsense), and cost; I personally like dollars in my pocket and not Exxons.

          Being efficient doesn’t mean being a slave. I still fire up my HEMI to travel or even to go to work on cold/wet days. But the viable options of biking and subways makes life better and cheaper. Just as advanced tech like aluminum bodied vehicles, start/stop, hybrids, etc will make life better, cleaner and mroe efficient. And the HEMI will still be there for when pure unadulterated power is needed.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      You should be excited about the new F-150. It’s going to make Chevrolet and Ram look terrible, and they will have to respond by dropping their prices into the basement.

      The truck market will finally collapse itself, and we can pay reasonable prices for steel trucks again.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Cars have so many airbags in them now that if they become damaged enough to need replacement body panels, it will most likely get junked anyway. Also, the lack of rust and the proven track record of aluminum in Jaguar bodies, Freightliner frames, and airplanes means aluminum in nothing but a good thing for cars.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskerDaVinci

      Unsafe econoboxes? Really? You do realize that body panels make ZERO contribution to safety. What the panels are made out of make no difference in how safe a car is.

      For someone who claims to know a lot about automobiles, you certainly know very little in actuality. Try learning about something before talking about it. You’ll stop making yourself look as ignorant as you actually are.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Sooner or later, these costs are going to get passed on to owners, just like the costs of all of the “computerization” of cars, which require repair shops to buy expensive equipment and license expensive software from the manufacturer. Not to mention the training to use the equipment properly . . .

    I’m not really sure that this is a win for the consumer. I understand the hoopla about saving weight; but an equally big factor in fuel consumption is aerodynamic drag. With the form factor of a pickup being what it is (and what it has to be), I wonder how much fuel economy benefits are going to come from saving weight.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      The computerization in cars has made them easier to repair, gather data on (for R&D purposes), and allows all the creature comforts people demand today.

      You couldn’t even build a car 30-40 years ago that is comparable to the average car today. It wasn’t cost prohibitive, it was technologically impossible. Yet, cars are cheaper than ever (adjusting for inflation & longevity increases).

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Try just getting a pre-ODBII car emissions tested. Only those inspection stations that have a standalone computer with the exhaust probe, ignition wire probe (to determine engine RPM), and a set of stationary rollers to run the car up to speed can test them. Only two shops in my small town have the needed equipment.

      ODBII equipped cars are easier to diagnose; while it takes knowledge and equipment, they are also easier to tune and even performance tune if you so desire. Along with fuel injection; ODBII is one of the best things to happen to modern cars. Modern infotainment systems, on the other hand, depends on whether you love or hate them.

      To answer your question: weight savings helps you mostly in city driving, or driving in hilly terrain; where you’re constantly starting and stopping; you have less mass to accelerate each time. Aerodynamics pay off in steady state driving above about 40 MPH or so. So, your savings from weight reduction entirely depends on how you drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yeah, because it is so much more difficult to have the computer tell me which sensor is bad and replace it than back in the good ol’ days when all you had to do was find the leak somewhere in enough vacuum hose to circle the earth and figure out how to jet the carb to go visit family in Denver. Ah yes, those were the good old days.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Converting the Royal Navy from coal to oil wasn’t easy either…

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Interesting comparison since the Royal Navy created modern oil geopolitics by going into the Middle East, and the new F-150 is trying to get the US out of the Middle East.

      • 0 avatar
        WhiskerDaVinci

        Very little of our petroleum actually comes from the Middle East truth be told. Around 40% is domestic, and the rest is mostly imported from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. We import about the same amount of oil from the Persian Gulf as we do from Africa.

        People need to stop thinking that we get so much of our oil from the Middle East, but the truth is, we really don’t anymore. Look it up. It continues to fuel tensions and political conflict in this country and abroad when it really doesn’t need to.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          I understand the gist of what you’re saying, but I look at the data quite frequently, and I know Nigerian imports have fallen about 400% since the summer of 2010. I also know we import more from Saudi Arabia than we get from Mexico or Venezuela.

          We are no longer beholden to the Middle East, but the fracking boom is replacing Bonny Light. The Middle East still makes up over 20% of our oil imports.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    If it’s going to cost independent repair shops thirty to fifty thousand dollars to upgrade their equipment and training to work on the aluminum bodies of Fords new F-150, I think a lot of them are going to be very reluctant to do so….they’re going to have to invest in a second set of tools which will simply sit around for who knows how long until the new F-150s start coming in for repair work. If Ford wants to speed up the process I think they’re going to pony up more than a $10,000 subsidy to get the repair shops to respond in any kind of timely manner. And if Ford is the only domestic automaker to undertake the switch to aluminum body construction, it could take a long time. The volume of repair work simply won’t exist.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      You know, except for the fact that the F-150 is the best selling vehicle in the US. Let alone that trucks tend to take a lot of abuse. I’m sure they won’t have any that need fixing, lol.

      Yes, if this pays off for Ford, you bet they will be rolling it out to other vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      Any idea what the cost of outfitting the average repair shop? I’m not familiar and 50k may sound like a lot to us, but it might not be (relative to 5 new lifts or something).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s a great question. My point of reference is the mom & pop style shop where 50K is a major capital investment. The body shop I normally use bemoaned the purchase of new paint mixing equipment as their circa 1990 paint machine worked fine and could mix paint right up to the 2008/09 MY for most cars when the recipes were all changed.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I remember reading an article on the Audi S8 in C&D back in 2008. They had an accident with the long term test car. An offset head on with a minivan. The car was barely driveable, but required $26,000 to repair and took 5 months. Here is an excerpt:
    the key element is the shop’s ability to isolate the aluminum repair section.

    “Contamination from steel panels is a big problem,” said Napper. “Steel in direct contact with aluminum causes corrosion. So we have a special bay for cars like the S8, absolutely dust free. We also have a separate set of tools—all of them stay in that bay all the time.

    “We use special welders for aluminum and special adhesives, absolutely no Bondo.

    “When we’re straightening aluminum frames or body panels, we use special fixtures, almost like a factory jig. It’s a very precise system.

    I know there is no aluminum spaceframe on the Ford, but I know galvanic action between aluminum and steel can be severe, especially in moist or especially corrosive places. The isolation between the materials has to be extensive and complete.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      More precise welding using TIG and a backing gas.

      Also, how will the aluminium be annealed after working?

      Maybe CAFE isn’t that good at giving direction for future vehicles required for the US.

      A steel pickup the size of a T-100 might have been a better option.

      The steel industry claims to have the ability to construct steel vehicles that will weigh 35% less than conventional steel vehicle construction and aluminium only gives a 40% reduction in weight.

      Well, the US has to live with this.

      • 0 avatar
        Kinosh

        Big Al, I agree. If the goal is to reduce fuel consumption, then the simplest, most no-nonsense way would be to just raise the federal gas tax. That would also have the side effect of revenues.

        Alas, recommending the fuel tax be increased is political suicide. That’s why every time I have to read the (ever changing) CAFE and FMVSS regs I feel my sphincter instinctively tighten.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          There are 535 people in Washington who would dispute your assertion of how “simple” it would be to increase the gas tax.

          It would be easier to get Congress to approve a switch to the metric system and give every kid a free unicorn than it would be to increase the gas tax by any substantial amount.

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            Oh yeah, I agree. The fact that it was easier to pass CAFE (same goal and ridiculously complicated) than a fuel tax increase proves your (excellent) point.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          Raising gasoline tax is pure nonsense. First, excise tax is designed to offset the cost of regulation, not fund roads or discourage consumption. Second, fuel taxes are not equitable across various fuel types. Third, consumption taxes for items like gasoline are regressive, and punitive for fixed income elderly. Fourth, historical evidence demonstrates gasoline demand is highly inelastic, and US consumers are nearly as likely to go broke as to increase fuel economy.

          Raising gasoline excise is the least-effective option available. It’s just a way to nickel and dime the middle class.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            You are correct on the gas tax.

            Also, if you look at the history of tax increases, they most often fail to reach projections while spending goes up more than projected.

            You do the math.

        • 0 avatar
          WhiskerDaVinci

          The simplest way to reduce fuel consumption is for Americans to stop buying full size pick up trucks and SUVs that they don’t actually need. People in this country voluntarily buy bigger and thirstier automobiles than they actually need, and then complain about fuel prices. Buying a smaller car is actually incredible simple. Instead of buying a Tahoe, buy something smaller. It’s easier than asking the government to do anything.

          Want to spend less on fuel and use less? Don’t buy a car that’s bigger than you actually need to be.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree but in its place full size cars need to be available.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “The simplest way to reduce fuel consumption is for Americans to stop buying full size pick up trucks and SUVs that they don’t actually need.”

            The simplest way to reduce meat consumption would be for Americans to become vegetarians.

            You can bet on which one of these things could happen first. (You may as well flip a coin, since neither one of those things is going to happen.)

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            Americans are becoming vegetarians. Politicians like to pretend that we cut out the veggies and started easting processed foods. In reality, we became a nation of obese lard asses by cutting out meat for processed foods.

      • 0 avatar

        CAFE never was any good for anyone except man-hating greenies, who want us all dead, or at least living in poverty (until next asteroid). It’s a government policy designed from the outset to drive up the costs of driving, and it accomplishes that.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      the first aluminum A8 had foamed aluminum, not panels. so yes that is completely different and new. not sure if that still was the case for the 2008 S8, though.

      and how many people in the US are capable to work on an S8, vs. a F150? You could make the same comparison with a regular stell body Rolls Royce, where not many shops can fix it, so you say steel is not a good material for cars because RR are expensive to fix?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    All of this to save a few hundred pounds on a 5000+ lb truck.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Yeah, I’m sure that Ford never looked into the business case for this. They should have asked all of us.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Might be easier and cheaper to spend money on lobbying. Now Ford spends billions, forces dealers to spend $50K a pop for a certification (which will be passed on to you), will force you to pay much more than the current model and limit you to the dealer where your truck can be repaired in the long term. If the competition were doing it, I would understand not wanting to be left behind, but I don’t see this happening.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        If they did then the new F150 would likely look like an old Volvo wagon and only come with a diesel and in brown. Don’t forget the stick. They’d sell like hotcakes to the best and brightest…in 5 years used except for the big trucks version which would be made of lead and have a 13 Liter Hemi.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      700lbs is more than a few. I am all for it. Adding lightness pays dividends EVERYWHERE. It will ride better, handle better, and be more efficient.

      Here’s a little hint – pay attention to what you are doing and don’t crash the thing and it will never be an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Flybrian

        Thanks, other motorists!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good advice, now if only engineers would design cars so people could see out of them…

        Btw, all of this money is being spent for less than a 13% weight reduction. Building a normal sized truck is also a great way to save weight and much cheaper from the production standpoint, could probably shave 30% off of the weight.

        14 F150 Reg cab/3.7/6.5′ box
        700 / 5476lbs is 12.78%

        14 Fl50 Super cab (quad?)/3.7/8′ box
        700 / 5604lbs is 12.49%

        http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/specifications/capacities/

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          50k doesn’t seem like that big an investment for Ford Dealers who want to be certified to perform aluminium body work on the new Ford F Series, IMO.

          Having said that, I still doubt Ford is going to be able to pull off a smooth transition in fabricating the new F Series with the % of aluminum they will be, for a variety of reasons.

          Lastly, there’s a big difference between transitioning a relatively niche luxury marque such as Jaguar into the era of aluminum and doing the same with the best selling vehicle in the United States, which has a much different purpose and the completely different customer who buys the F Series vs something such as a Jaguar.

          It’s one thing to try such a thing on a vehicle that represents a small % of sales and profits, and yet quite a larger risk to do it on a vehicle that literally makes payroll for the company.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree its quite a big risk, and the competition will be there to sell to potential buyers put off by the risk or if there are any hiccups with the product.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            On the manufacturing side, I disagree, DW.

            Here’s why:
            F Series has huge panel gaps designed in. This makes life easier. Body Engineering has a huge budget for this launch and money solves problems in manufacturing. Body Engineering was probably the most robust and experienced group I worked with, and they have a lot of talent from many OEM’s working under that umbrella.

            The dealer side will be up to the dealer. I worked at a GM dealer that spit out better body work and paint than any GM plant ever could. If I had a classic show car, I would drive all the way to the midwest to have them paint/repair it.

            The design of the BIW will be the big ‘lets wait and see.’

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Isn’t the Canyon within like 300 pounds of the new F150? Size matters, just not as much as you’d think it seems.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which Canyon, the one that’s about to come out or its predecessor?

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Meant Colorado, sorry…the new one

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            We’ll see how it does but from what I’ve seen the new Colorado/Canyon seem kind of big for their intended mission. I’m sure outside of contractors and those who use their trucks for a living, something Tacoma sized with a standard small block V8 and optional V6/I6 is all most truck buyers would need. Whomever is demanding to drive the land equivalent of the Nimitz around should just move up to the Super Duty/3500.

        • 0 avatar
          toxicroach

          Isn’t the Colorado too small yet too big while also being too small to succeed?

          It’s almost like you can’t win on internet forums.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            I am just pointing out to the “just make the trucks smaller and it will be the same weight as a Lotus Elise” crowd that these gains are greater than just building a 9/10 scale truck which no one wants as shown by the T100.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A few people buy small pickups, often motivated by the desire to save money. (Transaction prices are below the national average for overall vehicle sales.)

            Many more buy large pickups because they are status vehicles. Their average price is well above the national average.

            There is very little crossover between these two markets, particularly among the large truck buyers. Just because they both have beds doesn’t mean that most buyers of one are willing to switch to the other.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/judge-allows-suit-over-aluminum-corrosion-in-fords-to-move-forward/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    Ford is the last company I would trust to build an aluminum body or perform a customer-friendly cost analysis. Anybody that buys their feces gets what they deserve.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Ford doesn’t do new tech well.

      The 58-60 Lincolns did unibody wrong. The orig Explorer was poorly designed and the Ecoboosts don’t live up to the billing.

      Let the aluminum pioneers take the arrows for Ford.

  • avatar

    As someone who lives in the rust belt, there is an appeal to an aluminum vehicle. Most vehicles rust out around here much faster than they wear out.

    The frame is heavy enough, that they don’t have much of an issue with rust until long after the body does.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I’d like to agree with you. But as we know from early alloy wheels, if the aluminum is uncoated it will corrode badly. However, these trucks will be painted. Which is the same as today’s alloy wheels. Any time you get the smallest nick or scratch, you get moisture between the coating/paint and the alloy, and it just keeps spreading. There’s no way to stop it without removing the coating/paint, sanding down the metal to smooth it, and repainting. I suspect these trucks will be a cosmetic disaster. Not structural or holes, but separation of the paint from the panels.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Agreed. The best vehicle I rode in during my rust belt time was aluminum. It was the 737 that flew me out of Syracuse when I left Fort Drum.

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    Ford figured out a lot about aluminum construction by helping Jaguar engineer the 2004 XJ, which is built with a rivet-bonded aluminum monocoque. Jaguar Land Rover still uses that construction technique today – on the Jag XJ, XK, Range Rover & Range Rover Sport – and it works well. There is already a network of shops certified to JLR standards, so I would imagine that those shops would be interested in certifying for work on the F150 as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      I would have thought Ford got some decent data from their experience building and repairing those Jaguars. It was probably the most useful thing they got from the brand.

  • avatar
    sideshowtom98

    I remember the C&D article on the lengthy repair of the S8. It seems the body panels of the A8, and the S8, are completely different. The largest part of the 5 month repair time was the repair shop ordering A8 parts, not S8. The A8 parts took months to arrive, had to be returned and reordered, with another wait.

    No argument that aluminum body shop work requires training and tools unique to aluminum. Many shops do aluminum repairs now, and the number has grown every year as more and more auto and truck manufacturers use it. The new F150 will just speed that growth, especially, obviously, at Ford dealers. Nothing really all that remarkable here, other than many people believe it took “courage”. Courage, or the board room equivalent. Screw this up Malloly, and you still retire with hundreds of millions!

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    What happens when the warranty runs out and you want cheaper repairs?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Not a lot of warranty work done on body panels.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      A shop that isn’t ready for the new F-150, is already not doing quite a few English and German cars. If you need specific certification to do each brand, it has nothing to do with aluminum. One cert supersedes the others at least when it comes to aluminum.

      Working/welding Al isn’t rocket science. Sounds like Ford is requiring certs from dealers to calm buyer’s nerves. It shouldn’t be a huge expense for Indi shops either. Techs must have their own tools/welders.

      Over all, everyone involved in the industry will benefit. Including all OEMs.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @DiM
        I work with all different types of alloys.

        Tell me what you know about metals and metallurgy.

        I don’t think you would know much.

        Tell me about vacuum bond repairs.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Not sure what the big deal is, I’m sure a body shop or any shop has to frequently pay for new tools and training etc. A stealership building cost $2mio, they have $100ks or even millions of inventory, have dozens of people on staff, huge energy bills, all the promotional trainign for sales people (to learn to sell the car) – spending $20k ( after Ford subsidy) for the best selling vehicle doesn’t sound bad. I’m sure the weekly radio ads cost more. The case was different for Audi A8, but I’m sure Ford will convert their entire fleet to aluminum over time.

    Did dealers complain the same way when catalytic converters, OBD, fuel injection etc. were introduced? And god forbid, they charge over $100 an hour and actually need to have some specialty tools and training? I always thought I only need Google and a screwdriver and can charge that money.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I am sure Ford has done its homework here and is not going into this lightly (no pun intended). Others will follow and the repair side may not be as bad as we think it will be. It’s yet another change that we will adapt to. If it is more resistant to minor denting, I am all for it. My 12 Tacoma dents and dings if you sneeze at it. Hopefully the Al panels used on the F150 are of sufficient thickness to not dent easily.
    Change is permanent.. Bring it on.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    At worst case this is akin to the rise of EFI. Yes, there was a curve while independent shops came on board but they did or they went out of business.

    The automakers have to meet increasingly tight fuel economy standards. Yes, they could make the trucks smaller. Perhaps GM and Dodge will take that route. But the market has spoken on the size they want full-size trucks to be and the trend is not towards smaller. Ford is simply responding to customer demand.

    Those on this forum routinely bash companies for being too conservative. redesign after redesign of Camcord is blasted as being too conservative. Here Ford shows some true innovation with their number one cash cow and some of you act like they are stuffing a nuclear reactor under the hood.

    Kudos to Ford for this. Adding more gears to the transmission and stuff like that is easy. Ford is doing the heavy lifting here and I believe it is going to pay dividends in the long term beyond simply moving some additional units because they have a bigger chrome grill and larger touchscreen.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You may be right on future dividends but a less than 13% weight reduction seems to be more risk than reward (unless this is only stage one and future reductions follow).

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      +1

      in addition people are concerned with some more repair cost in case of an accident, which is rare. But the 9-speed Chrysler tranny that for sure will fail, they are not concerned with? How much training for shop staff and tooling is needed to accomodate new turbo motorss and those 1000-speed trannys? Probably more than $20K.

      $20k profit is made by selling 3 new cars, taking the trade in and sell as used car at high financing cost and charge extra for “environmental package” of some unicorn mist. If a dealer cries about $20K, they are outof business soon anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I get so tired of the claim auto manufacturers are just providing customers with what they want. In this case, large trucks. Did people not have satisfying lives back when full-size trucks were such small things as around 1990? Do you see any counterbalance to the pervasive ads pushing BIGGER pickups? Do you think the spending of $500 per new vehicle on advertising is wasted or has any effect? You can bet that if the car companies didn’t want to engage in a race to sell bigger pickups all the time, they’d have no trouble changing customer preferences.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Yeah, that free market stuff is a real bitch. I had a very satisfying life in 1990. But my Dad’s truck was no where near as nice/safe/big/efficient as a modern full-size.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        And many people thought that they had satisfying lives with outhouses and whale-oil lamps, but those darned greedy businessmen insisted on developing and selling indoor plumbing and electric lights.

        And making money while they did it, too!

        Oh, the humanity…

  • avatar
    Atum

    I think the shop idea is nice on Ford’s part. When I get a vehicle, I’d service it at the dealer because 1. They’re the experts 2. They report repairs, etc. to CarFax, and I wouldn’t want the future owner of my car to be ripped off, thinking it didn’t get a new transmission, instrument panel, and engine, which it actually did.

    But Ford making the F-150 aluminum is a silly idea. It’s expensive, and trucks aren’t supposed to be lightweight. They’re supposed to be big, manly, and get poor fuel economy. Besides, 15 MPG on regular is cheaper than say, 25, on diesel. Ford’s turned into a painfully Liberal company IMO.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I’m sure 700lbs is only on the worst-case scenario crew-cab long box (whatever the max length you are allowed to get with a crew cab). It will be interesting to see how much weight reduction they get out of the basic regular cab short box.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Really interesting will be weight compared to equivalent GM/Chrysler. And even more real world mpg. Who cares about what injection, weight etc. A car has, ultimately real world mileage will sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Not only is 700 lbs the best-case scenario for a 157″ WB truck, remember that the baseline that Ford is measuring against is the current truck which is heaviest in class to begin with.

      The conventional steel Silverado is around 300 pounds lighter than that F-150.

      So being honest about it, all of these aluminum costs and compromises aren’t saving 700 pounds. Against a modern steel truck the difference is going to be half of that, at best.

      700 pounds is getting interesting but 300 in a 5500 lb truck is just noise.

  • avatar
    Jon Fage

    I sure hope that they do certify their shops. I used to own a 2011 Mustang that had an aluminum hood. It began to oxidize severely (RUST) within 16 months of purchase (by April 2012). Ford would not replace the hood and insisted that the hood should be repaired.

    The Ford body shop (Wayne Pitman Ford in Guelph, Ontario) did repair the hood and it looked good but I traded the Mustang in 2013.

    If Ford is going to be using more aluminum, they had better not give buyers the same hassle that Ford of Canada gave me. It was only because that the body shop manager at Wayne Pitman was willing to help that I was able to even get the problem addressed.

    But get this – in 2013, Wayne Pitman closed their body shop altogether. So I guess that any buyers of the new F150 in my city will have a much more difficult time dealing with the oxidation of their aluminum panels.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    My guess is that when people start to wreck these things in large numbers and suddenly the insurance companies freak out about the cost of Al body panels, paying for specialty certified body shops (or having to pay to fix shoddy repair jobs by shops not used to working with Al), the increased cost of premiums will put a huge dent in sales. Trucks are supposed to be cheap to fix because they will inevitably get damaged during regular use–can’t wait to see how fleet operators will deal with half of a dozen F150s with sky high premiums.

    That’s assuming Ford can source enough Aluminium to keep production up and somehow assemble these things without making a hack job of oddly fitted panels and paint that doesn’t match or just comes off/oxidizes… or they can even get the welds right.

    Good luck to all intrepid first adopters, be aware of your states’ lemon laws!

    Quality is a job… that we’re probably supposed to do.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      I would agree with you since new technologies always come with some issues… but what you say was said when Al was used for airplanes and bicycles.

      I’m a bit concerned since this is Ford we are talking about (with Ford I’m also concerend with their touch system, turbomotors, or their general track record). But in general, Al is manageable. Probably woudl be better if a company with good qulaity Management woudl have started this new (to cars) technology.

      Well, it isn’t really new, expensive cars had Al and plastic body panels for a long time. The new thing is to use it in mass-production at lower margin.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Dude, it’s aluminum not kryptonite. Aluminum has been used to manufacture large and complex machines for over 80 years. It’s not by any means new technology.

      Indeed, just this month Delta announced that it was taking its last DC-9 out of service. N773NC had been in continuous commercial service since 1978. Aluminum, it’s a proven technology.

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    Why have so many people injected politics into this discussion? Ford is a business that designed a product featuring a material that they hope will provide a competitive advantage. What governmental boogeyman twisted their corporate arm to do this? Have you folks looked at an over-the-road truck lately? The cabs are usually made of aluminum, the front end/hood is fiberglass and the trailer uses lightweight materials wherever feasible. Nobody forced the OTR truck makers to do this; less weight in the truck body means more payload capacity and better unloaded fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The political discussions around this place are often overblown and off point. But in this particular case, it’s pretty obvious that the new CAFE is at least part of what is driving this.

      Under the old CAFE rules, Ford could have sold something else that burned less fuel, such as a compact SUV, in order to comply. But the new CAFE rules require improvements in every vehicle segment.

      Some of the changes are market driven, of course — there has been more consumer demand for fuel economy since the mid-2000s oil bubble. But the two basic ways to save fuel are to reduce average power output and weight, and Ford has done both with its push for turbochargers and aluminum program.

      GM has also been looking for ways to reduce weight, and is relying on cylinder deactivation. Chrysler is going to try to sell more diesels to make up for the gas trucks. They’re all impacted by the regulations, but they’re not all doing the same things in order to comply.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Pch101
        That’s why my argument has been as it was regarding the US’s overall policy regarding protectionism of its vehicle manufacturing sector.

        I do think CAFE will make F series half ton pickups much more expensive. The pickups will become less affordable.

        Maybe the Transit will become the new ‘F’ trucks for Ford. Like your cars they will shrink and go will Euro designs and like I stated the F-150′s will become a richer mans toy.

        • 0 avatar
          toxicroach

          Given the massive profit margin on the things, there’s a fair amount of play here, and if you could get an F-150 that gets 30 MPG would save about $600 a year at $3 a gallon at 12000 miles a year. So if you owned it for only 5 years, you could absorb several thousand dollars of increased expenses and come out ahead, or at least not pollute as much while breaking even.

          If gas goes up to $4, then it’s nearly a grand a year.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The automakers have two basic options:

            -Cut the power
            -Lose the weight

            American truck buyers want powerful motors. Substantialy cutting the power means losing customers.

            In contrast, nobody’s going to avoid buying a Ford because it weighs less.

  • avatar
    walt501

    More expensive to ensure? Perhaps. More expensive to repair? I believe more body panels are replaced these days as opposed to actually being repaired. And any increased expense will be more than offset by higher used truck values in the rust belt. Ask yourself which would you buy – the 10 year old aluminum bodied F150 with no rust, or the competitors rust bucket?

    Bottom line: Win for both Ford and F150 buyers.

  • avatar
    old fart

    Depending on how well Ford designed the truck’s aluminum durability and repair will make or break it’s perception with the American public , much like how GM killed the diesel in cars .


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