6 08, 2014

Jaguar Ready To Deploy Aluminum Architecture

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00August 6th, 2014|

Jaguar is ready to commit full-scale to aluminum. The British automaker recently announced that its new line of vehicles will be based on a new flexible aluminum architecture. Jaguar is looking at the Paris auto show in October to unveil the first of this line. From Automotive News:

Jaguar is moving to a new flexible aluminum architecture for future vehicles.

The XE sedan debuting in October at the Paris auto show will be the first to use the architecture. It will be followed by a compact crossover that will take styling cues from the C-X17 concept unveiled last fall at the Frankfurt auto show.

From there, Jaguar will expand its lineup, with the goal of transforming the brand into a formidable competitor with the German makes. But Jaguar executives insist the brand won’t develop vehicles in every segment. They say they want Jaguar to remain a smaller player than its competitors.

Older vehicles such as the XK coupe and convertible, which would cost too much to engineer to meet new safety and emissions standards, are being killed off. The 2015 models will be the last for the XK coupe and convertible. Jaguar’s halo cars are now the F-Type coupe and convertible. U.S. sales of the coupe began in June. The convertible went on sale a year earlier.

While the aluminum body hasn’t yet trickled down to all of Jaguar’s vehicles, industry insiders believe it’s just a matter of time before the transition is made. For example, the popular XF line will see a redesign in the next 1-2 years, and it makes sense that Jaguar will use that as the aluminum transition point for design and manufacturing.

27 06, 2014

Ford Squashes Rumors About Delivery & Manufacturing Delays

2015-06-18T15:33:04+00:00June 27th, 2014|

The Ford F-150 and its aluminum body have gotten plenty of attention in 2014. With the launch imminent, rumors have started to swirl regarding delays and manufacturing difficulties. Is there any truth to this? Not at all, says Ford President Joe Hinrichs. From Time Magazine:

“Everything is on schedule and everything is going as planned,” Ford Americas President Joe Hinrichs told reporters, speaking at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan (via Automotive News), adding that he was “very confident in this vehicle.” Morgan Stanley’s analyst Ravi Shanker had said earlier that Ford’s planned factory retooling, which it has to perform in order to produce the new pickup, would result in “slow changeover, with tight supply.”

Ford has noted the planned retooling would temporarily deplete its production by over 90,000 F-Series pickups, reducing company sales and profits. Furthermore, margins are expected to be lower on the new aluminum-bodied F-150. But Ford views all of that as necessary back-stepping to be first to market with a truck that uses a combination of “military-grade aluminum and high-strength steel,” and that’ll weigh roughly 700 pounds less than the version it’s replacing.

Of course, only time will tell whether or not Ford is putting on a brave face on top of manufacturing delays. But we’ll take it all at face value and assume things are full speed ahead for now.

17 04, 2014

Aluminum Repair Drives Evolving Body Shop Workload

2015-06-18T15:33:05+00:00April 17th, 2014|

More and more auto manufacturers are looking at aluminum as a significant portion of a vehicle’s body. But what happens after the car hits the road and requires repairs? Body shops are discovering that they need to quickly get with the times in order to keep up. From Body Shop Business:

Ever since Ford announced the release of its new F-150, aluminum seems to be the talk of the industry. Due to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards requiring automakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, the maker of America’s best-selling vehicle turned to military grade aluminum alloy to make it 750 lbs. lighter.

But some shop owners aren’t too enthusiastic about the change. For one, purchasing special equipment to properly repair aluminum is a significant investment – one that some speculate will offer little to no return.

“The biggest challenge facing repairers isn’t becoming capable in aluminum repair; it is the downward pressure being placed on repairs from an expectation that somehow we are able to do more, and invest more, for a lesser return,” said Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

Dan Risley, president and executive director of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), estimates that less than 20 percent of the industry is ready to perform structural repairs on aluminum vehicles.

“I think a larger portion of the industry is capable of repairing non-structural aluminum parts, but they aren’t equipped to do it. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t properly equipped to do it.”

While the return on investment won’t just magically appear overnight, Risley says that the shops that make the investment in equipment and training will be the ones that survive in the end.

“It probably doesn’t make financial sense for [shops] to pursue it today if they don’t have the capital. However, it will start to even out as more mainstream vehicles, such as the Ford F-150, are manufactured. If you don’t do this at some point, you’re going to be blocked out from repairing those cars.”

And it’s not just the customers who will take their business elsewhere – shops will be facing increased scrutiny from insurance partners, too.

“Insurance companies are going to start identifying which shops are equipped and trained to repair [aluminum] cars,” said Risley. “So if you’re a shop that’s reliant upon direct repair referrals, quite frankly some of those referrals will never make it to your door because you can’t properly repair the vehicle.”

As with any industry, staying ahead of trends is the key to survival. As aluminum becomes more and more of an industry standard, the proper training and equipment for body shops will become a fact of life, not just a luxury.

2 04, 2014

Tesla’s Aluminum Shield

2015-06-18T15:33:05+00:00April 2nd, 2014|

The only blip on Tesla’s radar over the past year or so has been that pesky battery fire problem. While these incidents have made for some spectacular videos, the truth is that they  occur in statistically minimal amounts. However, Tesla’s known for their innovation and attention to detail, and considering the coverage this issue has gotten, it’s no surprise that they’ve responded quickly – and aluminum is part of the solution. From CleanTechnica:

In response to two road debris-induced road fires that were front page news, Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model S will get a titanium-reinforced underbody shield. That should silence the haters and doubters who thought the Tesla was a firetrap.

All new Tesla Model S sedans built after March 6th have been equipped with the new battery shield, and existing Model S customers can get the upgrade, free of charge. The battery shield consists of three separate layers of aluminum and titanium designed to deflect and absorb energy from road debris before it ever reaches the battery pack.

Head over to CleanTechnica for videos of this new shield in action. If this issue was causing you to hesitate on purchasing a Tesla, the new shield might just change your mind.

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