Ford’s F-150 signals mainstream move towards aluminum image

While models that widely use the lightweight metal into their construction already exist, it’s the high visibility Ford F-150 that puts it mainstream, and others are expected to swiftly follow.

Steel has been for many decades the go to material for the worldwide auto industry, even as aluminum was heralded by automakers as the next big thing because of its ability to make new cars lighter and thus increase fuel efficiency. Still, big obstacles were involved – cost and the complete overhaul of manufacturing technology that was needed among them – so its prime users remained the niche luxury automakers.

Now, Ford is ready to put more than 700,000 2015 F-150s annually on the roads, as it mulls increased fuel efficiency and the fact that research showed them 80% of buyers would go for the new material – as it brings significant improvements to the vehicle.

“We’re seeing a shift from steel to aluminum,” said Scott Jacobson, senior manager with consulting firm KPMG in Chicago. “They’re figuring it out. People are studying the F-150 and making it a reality.”

The latest Chevrolet Corvette also has an aluminum body, with rumors stating that GM’s next generation of full-size pickups are also going for the modern alternative. Additionally, Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted towards the aluminum use in the Ram pick-up rival, besides the next Jeep Wrangler, for example.