As Ford’s newest F-150 dons an aluminium crown in place of steel, the usurpers waiting to take the throne of Truck Mountain are running to secure their own supplies of the lightweight metal.
The Detroit News reports that every automaker not named Ford has looked at the Blue Oval’s plans for aluminium use in order to meet CAFE standards with as little effort as possible, prompting a run to any supplier to help them with their ambitions.
One such manufacturer, Novelis Inc., has seen an increase of business as a result of the F-150’s battle plan, with head Tom Boney telling the newspaper how the run is affecting his business and that of his customers:
“There’s isn’t an automotive manufacturer that makes vehicles in North America that we’re not talking to. Our customers will be making announcements fairly regularly over the next six years that will transform the automobile industry.”
In the near term, Ford has most of the automotive-grade metal locked up for their new truck, which should give both automakers and suppliers enough time to see how Ford’s strategy plays out while also working on their own plans, tooling and production capacity.
Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery added that aluminium is the No. 2 material in automobile production, with North American producers aiming to double their use of the metal by 2025 at the same time CAFE standards hit a new peak of 54.5 mpg; Novelis expects usage to climb from 6 percent today to 25 percent by 2020.
Though Boney remained mum on specific vehicle programs waiting to use aluminium, he noted that more trucks will likely follow the F-150’s lead, as well as SUVs. Already, both GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles use the metal in the hoods and chassis components for their respective trucks, while Jaguar and Range Rover already sell aluminium-bodied vehicles.
Ultimately, though, he says that customers will come out on top of this new arms race among manufacturers:
“The automobile industry in Detroit is at its best when innovation is occurring at a rapid pace. That’s the period Ford has thrust us into in a big way”