DETROIT -- When Ford Motor Co. rolled out the redesigned 2015 F-150 at the Detroit auto show, it used the phrase "military grade" to describe the aluminum alloy it will use for the pickup's body.
The phrase has a tough image bound to find its way into Ford marketing. But is it more than marketing spin?
Over the years, industry has developed thousands of alloys, which are mainly numbered from 1000 to 7000 for sheet aluminum.
When Ford mentions military-grade aluminum, it is referring to the heat-treated alloys in the 5000 and 6000 series, which are used in vehicles and aircraft of the U.S. armed forces. The alloys are blends of aluminum with magnesium, copper or silicon. Heat treating makes the metal harder.
Ford has used military-grade aluminum on the F-150's hood for years. And General Motors and Chrysler Group used the same material on their pickups.
So while use of the alloys is old hat, Ford is giving them fresh allure with the phrase military grade.
"Our definition, as we are using the term, is that it's the same 5000 and 6000 series alloys in military and aerospace applications," said Doug Scott, Ford's truck group marketing manager.
Scott said Ford will share more details of the F-150's aluminum body this year. The new pickup will have a curb weight between 550 and 700 pounds less than the 2014 F-150.
The term military grade isn't used by other automakers, but has been used by Alcoa to describe alloys that meet military specifications.
Says Scott: "When you are trying to reinforce the strength of the material and 'Built Ford Tough,' that's good linkage."