Report: Ford Faces Major Challenge with 2015 F-150 Changeover
Production Requirements for Aluminum More Demanding than Steel
Ford Motor Company is publicly exuding an air of confidence leading up to the production launch of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 truck, but behind-the-scenes, it’s a tightly orchestrated sequence of events and changes that must take place for the truck’s launch to go seamlessly. An Automotive News report interviewed several industry analysts about the potential risks of the sudden changeover to aluminum for the F-150 bodies.
The biggest challenge with sheet aluminum compared to steel is the welding and bonding process. Steel is relatively forgiving with spot welding, and even slightly dirty or oily pieces can be welded together without incident. However, aluminum needs to be much cleaner to be welded. The new F-150 is also expected to primarily utilize riveting and industrial adhesive to put the body together. The resulting structure can be stiffer than a spot-welded steel body but is also much more complex to manufacture. Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, admits the company has little wiggle room in the execution of the F-150’s launch, but remains confident.
Rivals General Motors and Chrysler are both sticking with steel bodies for their fullsize trucks for the time being, although many believe the next generation of GM trucks may have aluminum bodies. GM is reportedly working on an advanced aluminum welding technique that would reduce the number and complexity of rivets required to assemble an aluminum body.
Source: Automotive News