Ford has vowed to improve fuel economy and is replacing about 1,000 pounds of steel with 600 pounds of aluminum in the F-150 to do so. The truck will be able to get about 30 miles per gallon, up from the 17 to 19 mpg of current models, some experts believe.
The Ford F-150 is the most profitable vehicle in Ford’s lineup and has been the best-selling U.S. vehicle of any kind for more than three decades.
“When you have a vehicle that successful, the company almost lives or dies on that model,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
The 600 pounds of aluminum will likely cost about $800 more than the steel it replaces. Aluminum is also somewhat more difficult to work with and will require a longer shutdown at the two Ford factories that make the truck to prepare for the change.
“We’re already the leader in aluminum use in full-size pickups, and it hasn’t been an issue,” said Ford spokesman Erich Merkle.
Buyers have shown interest in fuel economy, noting that about 40% of the F-150 buyers are choosing a more fuel efficient V6 engine, rather than the traditional V8.