It’s finally here — the largest shift in the American auto industry in years. Just a few days ago, Ford unveiled the 2015 version of the long-running F-150 truck. With the unveiling came plenty of questions and reaction, and there’s going to be much more of that as we get closer to the vehicle’s official public on-sale. For now, though, let’s see what some of the critics say.
From The Car Connection:
At the top of that list of changes is an aluminum body. Far from the flimsiness of a beer can, the high-strength aluminum alloy in the F-150’s body is, Ford claims, tougher than ever. The material also allowed Ford to execute an exterior design that’s more aerodynamic while retaining the “signature Built Ford Tough appearance” derived from the “machined cubic-style shapes,” according to the F-150’s chief designer, Gordon Platto. Inside the 2015 Ford F-150, the look isn’t such a great departure from previous versions of the pickup, though there’s a new level of upscale look and feel on premium trims. Blocky shapes and sturdy structures are the visual theme to back the F-150’s chosen mission.
Aluminum bodies are nothing new, but putting an aluminum body on a machine destined for as much punishment as your average truck seems like a recipe for disaster. The rust-free nature of aluminum is an obvious advantage, but the durability of aluminum is lower than steel. To ensure that the aluminum bed could cope, Ford started by making prototype bodies that were visually identical to the current truck. Without telling anyone, the company deployed them in the real world.
The company went through four separate generations of previous-gen aluminum bodies, making subtle revisions each time to get the right thickness where needed for durability, the right thinness where possible to save weight and cost. These were mounted on the previous truck’s frame, and Ford engineers were even so bold as to give these prototypes out to privileged customers for testing — unbeknownst to them. One aluminum-bodied prototype F-150 was sent to a Utah gold mine, its drivers told to treat it like any other truck. They did, and the 1.4mm-thick aluminum used in the bed proved even more durable than the steel in the current model.
This is just the beginning, though the early reports are positive. Of course, traditional thinking can sometimes be hard to break, but in the end, performance usually wins out — and given the potential of the aluminum-based F-150, that’s a good thing.