Ford’s New Approach to the F-150 Should Ease Repair Costs and Times

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There’s been a lot of noise made and a lot of dust kicked up about Ford’s (NYSE:F) high-profile decision to swap out the conventional steel for aluminum in its new F-150 pickup, which in turn should cut out about 700 pounds off of the vehicle in the right trim, leading to better handling, performance, and fuel economy. While that sounds like a winning formula from an engineering perspective (which Ford is betting that it is), there are some repercussions associated with the decision that Ford has to deal with — and it starts in its own dealership shops.

As it turns out, aluminum is a very different material in comparison to steel — from a fabricating and repair point of view. Aluminum requires different tools and processes than steel, and since there is a minimal amount of aluminum being used in auto manufacturing currently, Ford’s network of dealers are not equipped or trained to work on aluminum components. What’s more, the needed tools and training is estimated to cost $20,000 to $50,000 to outfit a dealer the needed supplies.

Nonetheless, Ford is confident that the F-150′s new body will be easier and cheaper to repair than the outgoing model, thus helping keep customer’s insurance premiums in check after concerns were raised that the unique material would boost insurance rates on the vehicle. The new truck’s body is reportedly 95 percent made of a military grade aluminum alloy that is used in Humvees, Reuters notes.

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