Ford F-150: With More Aluminum Comes New Problems

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One thing was quite apparent at Ford’s (NYSE:F) launch of the redesigned 2015 F-150 at the Detroit auto show last week: The company is quite proud of its new aluminum structure, which affords weight savings of up to 700 pounds in select trims over the previous generation. It has every right to be, too, as the company spent the better part of five years working on the new structure to ensure it would be able to stand up to everything that conventional steel was able to.

However, as with any new product, there are some issues that will need further ironing as the aluminum-clad F-150 starts its rollout. Unfortunately for Ford, though, these issues are more present on the customer side. They take on the form of higher insurance rates and a shortage of body shops that are certified to work on such extensive use of aluminum.

Bloomberg reports that just 10 percent of the 30,000 or so independent repair shops in the United States are certified and meet the training and equipment requirements to work with most aluminum auto-body parts. The news services cites an estimate by Darrell Amberson, chairman of the Automotive Service Association.

Amberson said to Bloomberg that some dealerships will handle body work in-house, but the vast majority is handled by independent parties.

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