Texas Truck Rodeo Sponsored by Steel Producers’ Marketing Arm
Aluminum-Bodied F-150 Took Top Honors For Fullsize Truck
This year’s Texas Truck Rodeo, the annual truck, SUV, and crossover competition put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association, featured some interesting drama, as its title sponsor was the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). According to PickupTrucks.com, the president of SMDI, Larry Kavanaugh, wanted automakers to remember that high-strength steel is another option for weight reduction.
In the past, SMDI has highlighted the fuel-economy and weight advantages that high-strength steel can provide. The Chevrolet Silverado and its GMC Sierra twin, for example, use high-strength steel extensively, which has helped give the twins class-leading fuel economy among V-8 fullsize trucks. In fact, the Silverado’s 5.3L V-8 can achieve better fuel economy than some of its competitors’ V-6–powered pickups.
While it may raise a few eyebrows that a group with such a fierce interest in the steel industry would back a competition featuring the widely publicized aluminum F-150, their sponsorship likely didn’t influence the results of the Texas Truck Rodeo. The F-150 was named both the best fullsize truck and the best luxury truck, and the military-grade aluminum body was commended in the technology category.
However, SMDI was quick to point out that even the much-ballyhooed F-150 uses a significant amount of high-strength steel in its construction. According to Ford, the 2015 F-150’s fully-boxed frame uses 70 percent high-strength steel in its construction, which SMDI says is the highest amount of any 2015 fullsize truck.
Furthermore, SMDI claims that aluminum use in passenger vehicles will peak in 2018, using data gleaned from studies performed by World Steel Dynamics, a company that provides steel-industry analysis and advisement. Obviously, any claims about aluminum’s popularity need to be taken with a grain of salt when they come from a company with the word “steel” in its name. Nevertheless, both SMDI and World Steel Dynamics claim that advanced high-strength steel can provide adequate weight savings while still being cheaper than aluminum.
Whether or not aluminum construction is here to stay, it’s clear that the controversial F-150 has ignited a fire in the belly of steel manufacturers. Weight savings will come as a result of improving the old recipe (steel) or trying a new one (aluminum), but either way, it’s clear that lighter, more efficient vehicles are on the horizon.
Source: PickupTrucks.com, Steel Market Development Institute, Texas Auto Writers Association