Big Steel Steps Up Marketing Game Under Aluminum Shadow

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Ford’s move to make the upcoming F-150 out of aluminum, along with GM’s plans to do the same with its trucks down the road, isn’t sitting well with the steel industry, to say the least. reports the Steel Market Development Institute — the marketing arm of eight United States-based steel producers — recently became the title sponsor of the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2014 Truck Rodeo — where the Aluminum King of Truck Mountain took home the Truck of Texas title and four other awards — in part to promote steel. Outgoing SDMI vice president Ronald Krupitzer explains:

Texans know and love their trucks. When they need a vehicle to keep up with the workload and lifestyle, advanced high-strength steel offers the perfect balance between weight and performance… we look forward to partnering with the Texas Auto Writers Association and sharing their insight on why time-tested materials, like advanced steel, will help ensure the durability, strength and safety of future vehicles.

As emphasized by SMDI president Larry Kavanaugh, the F-150 may have an aluminum body, but the truck’s frame “uses more high-strength steel than any other pickup.” The group also proclaimed said steel would remain the choice of automakers through 2025 and beyond, while aluminum will go the way of the hula hoop, Tamagotchi and the Harlem Shake after a few years of experimentation.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 17, 2014

    I don't see gasoline going to $2 a gallon and if it did it will not stay there. Much of the oil price is due to a weak World economy in which demand for oil has fallen and Saudi Arabia and the US increasing production and lowering the price of oil. Refinery capacity is very limited and no new major refineries have been built since the 70's. Long term oil prices will go up as all energy prices. Enjoy cheap gas for now, it will not last. In the long run making more efficient cars and trucks will pay for itself but the cost to make certain vehicles comply with higher standards will be harder since by their very nature they are not designed primarily for efficiency. A 4x4 high profile truck geared to haul heavy loads is not going to ever be as efficient as a low profile car with a smaller more efficient engine.

    • VoGo VoGo on Oct 18, 2014

      Libyan production and North American fracking are the driving down oil prices.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 17, 2014

    @cdotson--I agree, but I would go further in that if you live in a climate with snow the road chemicals will take their toll on any type of metal including aluminum. It is not just salt but beet juice and other chemicals that road crews use to treat a road with snow and ice. Many municipalities are using less salt because of the high price of salt and are mixing other chemicals with salt to make it last. It is easy for someone who lives in a climate that gets little or no snow to say that aluminum is noncorrosive. I just had an aluminum enclosed porch that was 10 years old torn down and rebuilt because it was rusting out (white rust with large holes instead of red rust). True aluminum is better than steel when it comes to corrosion but it can corrode.

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Oct 17, 2014

      @Jeff S - technically aluminum can not rust. Rust is the term for the oxidative process that occurs to iron. Aluminum does oxidize which is what you describe. Obviously the bolts/screws used to secure your deck where metal and you were a victim of galvanic corrosion.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 18, 2014

    Lou BC--True but it is a corrosive effect. Point is that aluminum is not free from the effects of weather. It wasn't just the fasteners that made it rust but it was the arsenic treated lumber and also the coating on the aluminum was degrading. I have noticed the coating on my aluminum deck furniture deteriorating after almost 4 years. Ford is using aluminum for weight savings and not so much for its abilities to resist rust. There are many other materials that are light and resist corrosion like carbon fiber and polymers. Again don't misunderstand me thinking I hate Ford or hate aluminum, just understand that aluminum is not the only material that is suitable for vehicle bodies nor is it new to vehicles. Technology has offered a host of new materials that were unheard of in the past and furture developments will bring newer and better materials.

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Oct 18, 2014

      @Jeff S, If you want to continue a "conversation" with a person you use the "Reply" icon at the base of the person's comment. This shows what and where you are commenting. If there is no comment you must then follow the comment trail to the first available "Reply" icon and use it. The format on TTAC is different than PUTC.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 18, 2014

    @Jeff S - No need for PANIC!!! Aluminum car bodies and panel have been around for decades now. And on mainstream cars and trucks, like Explorers, Expeditions, Mustangs and F-150s. Not just aluminum hoods, lids and gates, but aluminum fenders too. If there was an issue with corroded aluminum on these from the elements, it would've grabbed national headlines. Instead, most owners of these cars don't know they're driving around with aluminum panels. I drove my F-150 around for 8 years, not knowing it has an aluminum hood. I found out about it right here. I can guarantee 99% of F-150 owners don't know they have an aluminum hood. Eventually, years down the road, we'll for get F-150s are aluminum. I'll just be an F-150, not Hey That's an Aluminum Truck!

    • See 2 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 18, 2014

      @Jeff S Lots of ancillary benefits to aluminum, even if the OEM Is stressing FE. Are bicycles sold on mpg? Aluminum baseball bats? Aluminum swap coolers? But if the OEM stresses the rust resistance, what are they saying about the new steel trucks remaining on the lot.