Ford caught a great deal of flack from the competition when it moved to aluminum construction for the F-150. Chevrolet ran ads targeting how much stronger its steel trucks were than Ford’s aluminum-bodied offerings. Ford moved to aluminum to save weight and improve performance and fuel economy. Ford’s bet has paid off in several ways, and one of them is in repair costs.
A new report published this week shows that the Ford F-150 aluminum body isn’t more expensive to fix in the event of an accident; it’s cheaper and quicker to fix. That is quite the revelation after dealers had to make significant investments in equipment and training to get technicians able to work on the truck back in 2014 when the Ford F-150 aluminum body debuted. At the time, it cost dealers as much as $50,000 to get the tools and training needed.
The big upside for Ford and its dealer network is that after the investment was made and the training was over, the Ford F-150 aluminum panels are cheaper and easier to fix compared to previous steel panels. Parts are also less expensive to buy than steel counterparts when things have to be replaced. The report indicates that parts like hoods and bumpers saw double-digit price decreases compared to previous models.
Not all parts are cheaper; the bedsides are reportedly more expensive in aluminum than comparable steel parts, but they have to be replaced less frequently. Some feared that the aluminum-bodied trucks would cost more to insure than other trucks, but that hasn’t proven true because Ford worked to educate insurance companies on the truck making the Ford F-150 aluminum body trucks no more expensive to insure than any other trucks.
As the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., Ford took a significant risk moving to an aluminum body. The move allowed it to shave 700 pounds of weight from the truck. With increasing fuel economy standards, weight savings are a big way that Ford can improve efficiency as less weight potentially allows a downsized engine, or at least better performance from the same size engine. Ford aims to continue its pickup domination well into the future, and the aluminum body helps it to do that.