Those dreaming of a lightweight, aluminum-paneled Ford F-150 have been hit with some heavy news. According to a report from Truth About Cars, citing suppliers close to the matter, the launch of the next 2015 Ford F-150 could be delayed by as much as three months due to aluminum forming issues. Apparently suppliers’ shipments have failed to meet specifications, causing issues in forming the material; so much for the on-sale deadline of Memorial Day. Keeping it simple, the aluminum alloy supplied to Ford was hard to form due to its elastic modulus. If any of the properties are off even by a little bit, it impacts the entire project. Are the body panels on your new truck a big deal to you? You bet.
Alcoa, one of the aluminum suppliers, responded that "Alcoa does not have any issues with its automotive production lines."
Seemingly not without its risks and kinks, especially for such a high volume vehicle, switching to aluminum body panels was deemed advantageous for Ford because of the overall F-150 weight reduction of about 700 pounds, or 15 percent. Why does this matter? CAFE standards. With increasingly stringent fuel economy standards looming in the near future, weight reduction is becoming more crucial for overall fuel efficiency on the road. Another benefit would be improved maneuverability and handling. Although well intentioned and beneficial, step one for Ford will be getting these panels on the trucks.
Source: The Truth About Cars (TTAC)