There was no question Ford turned the industry on its ear by announcing that its highest-volume vehicle, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than three consecutive decades and the company's undisputed cash cow, was going to an all-aluminum body. But the announcement seemed to generate as many questions as it did answers, and Dearborn is now addressing some of the more pragmatic concerns in regard to repair costs for the new material, according to Reuters.
Although aluminum itself is a more expensive material than steel, the construction techniques utilized on the 2015 Ford F-150 promise to make repair costs essentially a wash over its steel-bodied predecessor’s, if not cheaper. Whereas the 2014 F-150's steel fenders were welded to the body, the aluminum front fenders in the 2015 model can be removed without cutting, saving 6 to 7 hours of labor costs, according to Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley. In addition, the B-pillar on the 2015 F-150 can be removed and replaced without affecting the roof panel.
Even with the "modular" construction techniques used on the new F-150, only a small percentage of body shops, either independent or within dealerships, are equipped or certified to repair aluminum bodies. Certification and equipment to do aluminum body repairs can cost $30,000-50,000. Ford said it is willing to assist dealers that have in-house body shops with as much as 20 percent of the cost of the upgrades -- or $10,000.