The first 2015 aluminum-body Ford F-150 pickup will hit the road in December, but Ron Needham and his crew of technicians at the Prestige Ford collision shop in Garland, Texas, expect to see their first repair job much sooner than that.
That's because a few pickups will sustain minor damage en route to dealerships. And Needham's shop plans to be ready for them.
All Ford vehicles destined for Ford's Southwest region come to a railyard in Mesquite, Texas, where they are transferred to trucks. Occasionally, vehicles get dinged coming off the trains.
When that happens, they're trucked 12 miles to Prestige Ford, where collision technicians perform body and paint repairs for American Road, an insurance company that covers Ford vehicles against damage while they're in transit to dealerships.
Prestige Ford is just one of more than 1,500 dealers and independent shops gearing up for Ford's aluminum revolution with the new F-150. The investment is significant, but they see solid opportunities as aluminum changes the landscape of the collision business.
"We repair all their vehicles damaged in transit," says Needham, the affable fixed operations director at Prestige Ford. Though no pickups have arrived in dealerships yet, Ford has begun producing them at its Dearborn Truck Plant, so Prestige Ford is likely to see damaged vehicles even before the first one gets tagged in a fender bender.