Chevrolet is escalating the pickup wars with a social media campaign that takes a swipe at Ford's aluminum-body F-150. In an online commercial slated for possible TV play, focus group members are asked which cage they will use for refuge when a grizzly bear lumbers into the room: one made of aluminum or another made of high-strength steel.
Ford Motor Co. has achieved full production of the 2015 F-150 at both plants that build the aluminum-bodied pickups, CFO Bob Shanks said last week. But a shortage of supplier-built frames keeps the plants from running some scheduled overtime.
It's early, but Ford says it's so far so good on repairing damaged 2015 F-150 pickups with aluminum bodies. Ford has not heard of any dealers or independent body shops having problems obtaining parts, installing parts or dealing with insurance companies about the time it takes to repair the new pickup, said Ford spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt.
For now, motorists' yearly insurance premiums for the 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150 are about the same as for the 2014 steel model -- good news for Ford. But premiums could change once insurance companies study accident repair data for the redesigned pickup.
Ford Motor Co. began shipping finished 2015 F-150 pickups to dealers last week as it announced the new aluminum-body truck will get up to 29 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing steel-body F-150. But the Ford numbers fell short of taking the overall mpg title for full-size pickups.
Ford's conversion of a 2.6-million-square-foot Michigan truck assembly plant to build the aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup has altered the look of the factory, body shop and adjoining stamping operations.
The first production version of the aluminum-body 2015 Ford F-150 pickup rolled off the line today at a Ford plant in Michigan after years of preparation. Ford aims to stake out its engineering leadership with the 2015 F-150, the industry's first mass market, aluminum-body truck.
The 2015 F-150 is a big deal because no company previously has manufactured a mass-market pickup with an aluminum body. Dealers who want to repair the trucks need to buy special tools and train technicians in aluminum techniques. Many of them are well on their way.
Ford Motor Co. has begun a series of intensive training sessions in 26 cities for about 11,000 dealership sales consultants to familiarize them about the 2015 F-150's new features, technology and capabilities.
Ford is bringing technology into the 2015 F-150 pickup more commonly associated with luxury cars. The list of new features is so long, it might seem bewildering to customers. Ford says it has taken out or applied for about 100 patents on the redesigned truck.
By converting its best-selling F-150 pickup from a steel body to aluminum, Ford is replacing the tried-and-true spot-welding process with a far more complex technique that uses a combination of rivets and industrial adhesives. These are scary times at Ford Motor Co.
This fall, Ford will start building an F-150 pickup with an all-aluminum body. Beyond a steel frame, the whole body is aluminum. It's a massive undertaking. What does this mean? Anyone who expects only subtle changes in future cars and trucks should get out of the way.
As western carmakers such as Audi and Ford embrace aluminum to save weight and boost fuel economy, their Asian rivals remain reluctant to invest in the costly retooling required that would disrupt existing manufacturing processes and supplier relationships.
Eight hundred fifty Ford dealerships have enrolled technicians in training courses to learn how to do collision repairs on the 2015 aluminum F-150 pickup, exceeding the goal of having 750 dealerships enrolled by the end of 2014.
To get a sense of the manufacturing challenge facing Ford as it prepares to build its aluminum-bodied F-150 pickups, you need only look at rivets and other complexities at the Range Rover assembly plant in Solihull, England.
It's the exact opposite of hush-hush corporate security: Jaguar Land Rover wants to share everything it knows about assembling aluminum-bodied cars. And that has made Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull assembly plant a popular destination for manufacturing executives from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and others.
Innovative recycling that sorts aluminum by type and returns it to suppliers will save Ford $124 per pickup, compared with using conventional recycling methods, when production of the 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150 starts this fall, says a stock analyst.
Ford is investing $500 million to build a new compact, lightweight turbocharged V-6 engine for the redesigned F-150 pickup at a plant in Lima, Ohio. The smaller V-6 engine should help the venerable F-150 close the fuel economy gap with Chrysler Group's Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which has a 3.
Ford Motor Co.'s aluminum-body F-150 pickup has swept away the traditional hierarchy of automotive metal suppliers. Since replacing wood a century ago, steel has been the undisputed king. Aluminum and other metals made their living as alternatives that had niche roles and sometimes could substitute for steel.
Ford used a color-coded body-in-white cutaway of the next F-150 pickup to make a serious point to dealers at the NADA convention: The economics of an aluminum truck – both the repair costs for the customer and the body shop operations for the dealer – make sense.
Though they waited three years to see the much-anticipated 2015 aluminum F-150, it didn't take Ford dealers Randall Reed and Jim Seavitt long to decide to invest in gearing up their body shops to repair it.
If the aluminum-bodied vehicles on the road today are an accurate gauge, the 2015 Ford F-150 probably will be more expensive to repair than its steel-bodied predecessor. Body shop owners say aluminum repair parts are more expensive than steel parts. And because it often takes longer to repair an aluminum body, the labor costs usually are higher.
Rob Retter doesn't mince words when he talks about what the 2015 aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 pickup means for Eurovac, the Concord, Ontario, equipment firm his family owns. "This is the biggest thing in the history of our company," he said.
The steel industry suffered a blow when Ford said last month that the body of its next F-150 pickup would be made of aluminum instead of steel. Now, one steel supplier says “the steel industry has failed” and might have prevented the switch by investing in the capacity to produce more lightweight, high-strength steel.
Moving from welded-steel construction of the cab and cargo bed to lightweight aluminum means higher material costs, a huge investment in tooling and engineering, the risk of a complicated and troubled production launch and potential consumer resistance -- on the highest-volume vehicle in the United States. So why did Ford Motor Co.
Alan Mulally took one of the biggest business risks in history in 2006 by mortgaging $23.6 billion in Ford Motor Co. assets to avert bankruptcy. Now he's taking another big chance by raising the cost of his top-selling and most profitable vehicle, the F-150, by swapping aluminum for less expensive steel.
The aluminum body of the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup uses the same bonding process developed by Ford engineers for the Jaguar XJ luxury sedan and the Range Rover SUV more than a decade ago. This explains, in part, why Ford Motor Co. executives are confident they can handle the F-150's switch to aluminum.
Steve Kiefer, General Motors' vice president of global powertrain, said he is considering a diesel engine for the light-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra to counter fuel economy improvements due on the Ford F-150 and Ram pickups.
At the Detroit auto show this week, suppliers and competitors finally got a chance to inspect the innovative Ford F-150 pickup. A constant parade of them toured the Ford exhibit. They snapped pictures with their cellphones. They measured. They drew technical sketches. They counted and examined the rivets and fasteners.
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