Ford’s clean-sheet new 2015 F-150 made a big splash upon its triumphant debut at the Detroit Auto Show, and with good reason. Thanks to first ever in the pickup world, an aluminum alloy body rather than much heavier steel, Ford engineers have been able to shave a whopping 700 pounds off the F-150’s curb weight. That said, dealers and auto body repair shops are a bit irked as their costs will go up, which even Ford admits will likely be passed off to you, the consumer.
While the 2015 F-150 still uses traditional steel for its chassis, the truck’s body-on-frame construction allowed for engineers to take a novel approach, using an aluminum alloy for nearly all exterior body panels. Ford put big effort into other weight-saving reductions. Fuel efficiency figures have not yet been released, but packing the EcoBoost V6 or a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder option, the hefty light-duty full-size is anticipated to blow the other trucks on the market out of the water in the fuel efficiency game.
Since pickups are often used for work-a-day types who put well in excess of 20,000 miles on their vehicles annually, that means big savings for independent contractors and firms in various fields. Weight saving measures will also help with the truck’s ride and overall driveability.
But Ford dealerships and independent repair shops will be feeling the burn as these gleaming new aluminum trucks begin to age. Only a small percentage of Ford dealers and independent auto body repair shops are currently equipped to work with aluminum, and that gear is quite costly. Ford has reportedly committed to investing up to $50,000 per dealership to purchase new equipment and tools in preparation, showing just how expensive it will be for an independent outfit to make itself ready to work on what is sure to be once again the nation’s best-selling vehicle.
What does this all mean to you, the prospective F-150 shopper? Well, even if manage to avoid even the smallest fender-bender during your entire time of ownership, you’ll face increased insurance costs, especially in this new stage of aluminum vehicle construction. That’s because insurance companies need to shoulder the increased cost of each collision that does occur, sharing the financial burden between all 2015-plus F-150 owners. Not enough of a good reason to stop such thrilling engineering progress, but consumers should be aware, nonetheless.