New F-150 Prompts Aluminium Run By Competitors

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
new f 150 prompts aluminium run by competitors

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”

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  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on Feb 13, 2014

    Here's hoping they don't get screwed by the Midwest premium, courtesy of the Vampire Squid and its colleagues: "When Goldman bought Metro in February 2010, the average delivery time for an aluminum order was six weeks. Under Goldman ownership, Metro's delivery times soon ballooned by a factor of 10, to an average of 16 months, leading in part to the explosive growth of a surcharge called the Midwest premium, which represented not the cost of aluminum itself but the cost of its storage and delivery, a thing easily manipulated when you control the supply. So despite the fact that the overall LME price of aluminum fell during this time, the Midwest premium conspicuously surged in the other direction. In 2008, it represented about three percent of the LME price of aluminum. By 2013, it was a whopping 15 percent of the benchmark (it has since spiked to 25 percent). "In layman's terms, they were artificially jacking up the shipping and handling costs," says Mehta."

    • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Feb 13, 2014

      I remember hearing about that. They essentially delayed delivery then paid a division of themselves to store the material an extra amount of time there by creating an artificial price increase. Brilliant if you control a large portion of a material.

  • JaySeis JaySeis on Feb 13, 2014

    It'd be nice if this would begin a slowdown of the exodus of STRONGER, CHEAPER and BETTER STEEL that is constantly shipped overseas as scrap. Then again...I see car carriers coming in the Columbia River and scrap steel shipped out (along with logs, hay cubes, grains, and proposed for coal, LNG, etc). I live on the coast where the salt air eventually eats anything metal. We need better alloys & paint treatments designed with superior corrosion resistance.

  • FreedMike I'll welcome as many cars like this as I can, but I think Acura's "right move" was to put the Accord Sport's 2.0T in the base model and sell it for thirty-five or so. That's a pretty compelling performance / value proposition.
  • Wjtinfwb I'll certainly admit to a bit of nostalgia that drives my appreciation for these 70's yachts, but there's more to it than that. It was an era that the Big 3 ruled the luxury market with the German's and British nothing but a beer fart in the marketplace. That changed drastically as the early '80s crept in but in 1977, a Mark V or Seville was where it was at. No rose colored glasses, they were not great cars, what they were was a great living room that you could ride to the office in. I grew up on a diet of Cadillac's, Lincoln and one big Chrysler before dad made the move to a 280SE in about '77. Impeccably built and very road worthy, dad initially didn't like the firm seats, clunky automatic transmission and very weak A/C. The exorbitant maintenance costs didn't help. But he enjoyed the driving characteristics enough to get another Benz, then a 733i, an Audi 5000S and a Jag XJ6. Compare these to today's Cadillac's (non- V) and Lincoln's that with the exception of the Escalade and Navigator, are boring and probably even more pedestrian than the Eldorado, Seville and Mark's were.
  • FreedMike I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with the two best German luxury sedans of the time - a manual '81 733i, and a '75 Mercedes 450SE. The BMW was a joy on back roads, and the Benz was a superb highway car. Good times. And both were dramatically better than the junkheap American luxury cars Dad had before.
  • Wjtinfwb A Celebrity Diesel... that is a unicorn. Those early A-bodies were much maligned and I'm sure the diesel didn't help that, but they developed into very decent and reliable transportation. Hopefully this oil-burner Chevy can do the same, it's worth keeping.
  • Wjtinfwb After S-classes crested the 40k mark in the early '80s, my dad moved from M-B to a BMW 733i Automatic. Anthracite gray over red leather, it was a spectacular driving car and insanely comfortable and reassuring on long interstate hauls. My mom, not really a car person, used the BMW to shuttle her elderly Mom back home to Pennsylvania from Miami. Mom and grandma both gushed with praise for the big BMW, stating she could have driven straight through the car was so comfortable and confidence inspiring. A truly great car that improved through the E38 generation, at which point the drugs apparently took hold of BMW styling and engineering and they went completely off the rails. The newest 7 series is a 100k abomination.