As the 2015 Ford F-150 loses some 700 pounds thanks to its aluminum body, a Bloomberg report suggests it could pack on higher body shop and insurance costs as a result of the lightweight sheetmetal.
According to the report, fewer than 10 percent of independent repair shops in the U.S. are certified to work with most aluminum auto-body parts. That's because repair shops must use different tools such as wire brushes, grinders, and sanders for aluminum, as using tools meant for steel could cause corrosion. Shops will also have to learn how aluminum bends back after an impact, however, Ford claims the new F-Series will be more resistant to dents and dings. Data from the automaker shows that 90 percent of its customers live within two hours of a capable repair shop, and 80 percent are within 30 minutes.
While the Ford pickup isn't the first vehicle on the market to utilize an aluminum body, it will sell in much higher volumes than aluminum-bodied Audis and Land Rovers, which could pose a problem considering the limited amount of certified repair shops. After all, the F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. by a landslide year-after-year, and if history continues to repeat itself, the 2015 F-Series should continue that trend.
That's only if higher insurance rates don't scare off potential buyers. The automaker estimates that insurance costs will jump 10 percent using the new material, but says that buyers will likely accept that added cost in return for improved fuel economy, towing, and payload. Higher insurance rates also mean decreased residual values for the F-150, since it'll be more costly to repair.
When asked for comment on the matter, a Ford representative told us, "We have designed the new F-150 to be easily repairable in the event of an accident. Ford dealers and independent repair facilities will be qualified to handle repairs. In terms of costs, we expect repair and insurance costs to be competitive with other trucks in the segment."