Ford certainly made waves when it rolled out the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 made primarily out of aluminum. But while trimming weight off its vehicles is a top priority for the Detroit automaker, we shouldn’t expect the lightweight metal to be used as widely on passenger cars as it has been on its new pickup.
Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday, top Ford exec Joe Hinrichs said that using aluminum in passenger cars isn’t as beneficial as it is in trucks – primarily because the weight savings isn’t as dramatic, or as deeply needed.
Though improved fuel economy is certainly one advantage of aluminum construction in a truck like the F-150, low prices at the pump have prompted Ford to highlight another advantage, and that’s capability: With less weight on its own, a lighter-weight truck can carry and tow more than a heavier one, because it all comes down to combined weight ratings.
Ford is expected to make the new F-Series Super Duty largely out of aluminum for the same reasons, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the next Expedition use the material as well. But while certain components in Ford passenger cars will be made of aluminum, we shouldn’t expect entire chassis and bodywork assemblies to use the material as extensively as on the F-150, or on more upscale passenger cars from the likes of Audi or Jaguar.
Dearborn is, however, investing in other lightweight materials. It has a joint venture with Dow Chemical to put carbon fiber into mass production, much as BMW has with its i3. The Blue Oval will use a combination of carbon and aluminum on its 2017 GT supercar, and it has stripped weight by removing amenities from the 2016 Mustang GT350R, but apparently neither is a method Ford can practically apply to its volume models.