So far, 850 Ford dealerships have enrolled technicians in training courses to learn how to do collision repairs on the 2015 aluminum F-150 pickup. Ford said the number exceeds its goal of having 750 dealerships enrolled in the courses by the end of 2014.
The training courses begin this week and will be taught by instructors from I-CAR (the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair), a nonprofit organization in Hoffman Estates, Ill., that trains and certifies repair technicians.
Jason Bartanen, I-CAR director of industry technical relations, calls it one of the biggest technical training programs of its kind ever. So far, I-CAR has scheduled about 700 classes in locations around the country. Dealership training begins this month. Training for independent collision shops and insurance estimators begins in June.
"Because of the magnitude and volume of this vehicle, I think we're going to see a fantastic response to this course," he said.
Ford's shift from steel to aluminum on its biggest-selling vehicle is an enormous industrial undertaking and affects everyone from the factory floor to the collision repair shop. Ford wants to be sure collision repair specialists know what they're doing the first time a damaged aluminum pickup rolls into a shop.
Ford sold 763,402 F-series trucks in 2013. It doesn't report sales of the F-150 separately from the rest of the F series, but Ford production statistics show that 69 percent of all F-series production was F-150 in 2013.