Ford likes what it has seen with the use of aluminum in its world-beating F-150 pickup trucks. Now, the Blue Oval is working with Alcoa to use that company’s Micromill material to increase the amount of aluminum in Ford vehicles. In fact, Ford will start using Micromill on 2016 model-year F-150s later this year, and will double the material’s use in 2017.
The purpose, as you might suspect, is light weighting, which allows Ford to boost towing capacity while adding as little weight as possible. Ford will be the first automaker to use Micromill, and will use it in both structural components and exterior panels. Micromill’s rolling-mill system cuts the time it takes to turn molten metal into coil to 20 minutes from about 20 days.
Already, Ford has had positive results by using aluminum on its leading pickup truck model. In April, it was announced that the 2015 Ford F-150 achieved a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’stesting. Safety features like inflatable seat belts, adaptive steering columns and a forward collision warning system helped matters.
General Motors may have taken note of those results, even after running an ad campaign touting its continued use of steel over aluminum. Last month, GM said it would sink $877 million into its Flint, MI, truck factory. Reuters said much of the expense was to convert many of the bodies for models like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups into aluminum.