Skip to comments.Ford's Trade-In: Truck to Use Aluminum in Place of Steel
Posted on 07/27/2012 2:33:00 PM PDT by Responsibility2ndEdited on 07/27/2012 2:39:50 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
ALLEN PARK, Mich.—In this suburb just west of Detroit, Ford Motor Co. is working on one of the biggest gambles in its 108-year history: a pickup truck with a largely aluminum body.
The radical redesign will help meet tougher federal fuel-economy targets now starting to have wide-ranging effects on Detroit's auto makers. But Ford will have to overcome a host of manufacturing obstacles, plus convince die-hard pickup buyers that aluminum is as tough as steel.
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It depends on what they go with. There have been some great advances with aluminum alloys, though I don't expect they'll use the @transparent aluminum that has been invented.
This is especially good news since the United States currently mines and produces, like, 483% of the world’s aluminum.
Aircraft are made of aluminum, and they’re plenty strong. It all depends on the design. A hood, for example, probably doesn’t contribute much, if anything, to the rigidity and durability of a truck. Aluminum could probably replace plenty of steel parts without compromising the “toughness” of a vehicle.
Chrysler experimented with aluminum parts in the 70s (look up Plymouth Feather Duster). From what I understand, the problem with aluminum wasn’t so much toughness as cost.
Right down to the Tracks. When you look at Soldiers riding in Viet Nam, they are riding on top of the track. The damned things were mine traps and fire traps. An RPG would eat through the side armor like it wasn’t there.
Ya, IIRC, the space shuttle boaster rockets burned a propellant that contained a large amount of aluminum. I've built amature rockets using aluminum powder.
My '99 F-150 4x4 V6 step-side 5-Speed Tranny has an aluminum hood, heads, intake manifold, oil pan, and gearbox case. Rear step-box is mostly fiberglass. The paint is in excellant condition on the hood with almost 200K miles on these Louisiana bug filled roads.
It has been the best little truck that I've ever owned. Doubt I'll ever part with it...
However...aluminum is a tad more expensive than steel and that means higher prices for the truck. How much higher? Who knows?
Compared to steel, painting and welding aluminum is more difficult. Still, aluminum has many advantages. As with all things engineered, there are always tradeoffs. I’d love to have some of the steel components, things like hoods, trunk lids, and fenders, changed to aluminum on my vehicles. One place where they better pay close attention is anywhere where aluminum and steel parts connect.
The last Ford I bought (Expedition), the section of frame that supports the engine rusted out by the time it was five years old. Mechanic told me the engine would likely fall right out while driving. Also said this was a common problem with that particular model.
Before that I owned an F-150, and by the time it was 2 years old, the paint on the roof and hood was bubbling and peeling in large swathes. To be fair, Ford did repaint it at no charge.
No way I'll be lining up to buy their newest tin can innovation.
They still are, including M109 howitzers and many other combat vehicles including some of the newer lightweight, air transportable tanks.
Btw, many navy ships are now being built of aluminum.
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Aluminum will burn violently if you can get it hot enough. Thermite is made out of powdered aluminum and iron oxide, and the iron oxide is just there to provide oxygen. You usually use a magnesium fuse to set it off.
I've always felt the real agenda of the "regulators" (safety, fuel economy, and emissions) was to drive up the cost of vehicles, making them too expensive for serfs, and driving the serfs toward public transit.
It's starting to work, the average age of US vehicles is at an all time high, 10.8 years. I think the ultimate desire is to make us look like Cuba.
Fuel economy is a function of weight (size) and efficiency. Todays technology is pretty close to the maximum efficiency for a Rankine Cycle (Internal combustion) engine. Without a new engine, the entire car will have to be made of rice paper and only allow one passenger.
Sure is great to see good old American leadership at work but here are some interesting facts:
In 2002 Audi built thei 150,000th aluminum vehicle
In 1923 Audi experimented with alloy engines and auto bodies
The once great American auto industry took risks, was creative and innovative.
But eventually it was a giant union manufacturer, and became totally risk-adverse.
Ford could be the best of the (once big) three, but is far from the industry leaders in Europe, Japan and even Korea.
To further clarify, it depends upon size. For instance, powdered zinc will sponstanoulsy ignite in moist air.
Bismarck wasnt a pocket battleship.
Correct, the “Pocket Battleships” were actually large cruisers and included the Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, and the well known Admiral Graf Spee
I’m sure a Ford pickup at Audi pricing will be a huge hit.
Land Rover has been doing this for decades. It has worked out pretty well.
-——is now looking at plastic.-——
I would think fiberglass reinforced plastic would be an option. The big rigs now have FRP cabs and seem to do ok. They don’t get knocked about like pick ups but I don’t see aluminum doing much better for getting beat up and knocked around.
I wonder if they mean something like high density polyethylene? That material is both strong and very tough. It will not however take a decent finish.
There was a show on TV not long ago about some of the 1930s era auto racing and some of the terrible accidents. I remember Audi (Auto Union) was one of the really active participants.
One company built a race car out of magnesium. They showed film of it after a wreck. It caught on fire and they simply could not put it out. The driver didn’t have a chance.
It will, but in a thermite reaction the iron is already oxidized, and actually gives up it’s oxygen to support the aluminum reaction. You’re left with a slug of aluminum oxide and molten iron.
Thanks. I think I probably see a new one in his very near future.
I don’t care so much about what they do with cars because I refuse to drive one of those tinker toys on the freeway. I remember back when they first came out with a Ford Falcon which was a real dud and ugly to boot. Eventually we got our “tanks” back. Hopefully it will happen again. In the meantime I’ll just keep driving my several year old, paid for, comfortable, easy to maintain, non-electronically controlled Expedition.
Aluminium welds have a tendency to crack under flex. The body will have to be much stiffer.
All those Postal vehicles are aluminum as well....Really ugly when they catch on fire...
I bought a 2004 Ford Explorer. Still have it, but I’ve put more into repairs for it than all my other cars combined over the last 35 years.
I’m keeping it for my youngest daughter to learn to drive in next year. If she wrecks it (& survives OK), I won’t mind if it is totaled.
Roof of my hooch in Thailand used a roll of Budweiser can material before they were cut. My tiLoc was a scrounger. Sawaadee !
Aluminum truck.... Hope it works. Maybe we can shine it up like an airstream trailer or Sky Kings Cessna 310 !
Stay safe Badger.
You also have the advantage of not rusting.
Aluminum rusts , it’s just white rust instead of red..
Stainless steel tends to work harden as it moves and crack when you try to use it on car bodies.
There was a company that built aftermarket Jeep CJ bodies out of stainless back in the ‘70’s and they always cracked around the frame /body attachment bolt holes. They were beautiful bit every one I ever saw cracked given some use.
We have an aluminum body Pierce Manufacturing fire engine going on 23 years. It has held up just fine. A few small bubbles have developed under some of the reflective striping. Other then that no problems .
“Im sure a Ford pickup at Audi pricing will be a huge hit.”
Meanwhile the American cars go around and around the Nascar tracks, little or no innovation technology-wise.
Did you know Audi has won 24 hours of LeMans 11 of the last 13 years; first with gasoline, next diesel (first ever), and this year hybrid (first ever).
VW Group builds cars of all price ranges. Higher price range vehicles and racing prepare for future innovations in all lines.
Whoops. The (former big) three all but gave up the luxury market (except Cadillac).
Nascar isn’t technology.
(Very profitable entertainment)
Mild steel is good stuff. It’s readily welded and performs consistently in crashes.
God gave us mild steel and cast iron to make vehicles for the masses.
The rear spar in the wing that the landing gear is attached to is aluminum.
Aircraft aluminum is very tough, but expensive.
But, I agree with a previous poster in that the weight loss will be a hamper to traction.
Maybe they can provide in the design attach points under the frame to add weight after you buy the truck.
Probably won't fly with the Fed's.
Just cruise down to the local EBT/TANF/Social Sec office and pick up a few fat girls. Problem solved. And on sunny days they can be offloaded to improve fuel economy.
I have vaporized a few pistons in my lifetime. 2 strokes and exoctic fuel mixes will do amazing things when things go wrong.
Well they run better and better as you lean them out, right up to the point where the piston crown becomes part of the combustion process.
With our modern computer controls technology we could achieve some incredible mpgs if we didn’t have to run at 14.7:1 to make the damn converter work.
Wonder how the lighter body would have changed the outcome.
“a few fat girls”
Or, or....let’s put the lead back into the fuel...huh, huh!?
Sky King was the best! Penny was pretty hot too!
Loved that show....:
Stay safe !
You mean sky king was really the airplane. I thought he was the pilot.
That’s plenty fast on pavement, and downright terrifying on water.
As someone who works in the aluminum idustry, it has a lot of merit and some drawbacks. Aluminum is a lot tougher than most realize. Accura made an all aluminum car for years. It was expensive and not a big seller, don’t know how it fared in wrecks and such. The one big drawback to aluminum skin is that it doesn’t stretch like steel and tends to break rather than bend. A lot would depend on the alloy. There are steering and suspension components already in suv’s and such from cast aluminum that have done quite well and most owners never know it (Dodge Durango, Chevy Trailblazer to name two). It’s between plastic and aluminum for cutting down weight on vehicles, but it’s going to happen
Clearly, aircraft generally consist of lots of Aluminum. And, there is good reason that airports never, to my knowledge, use salt on winter runways. Indeed, I will never forget renting a ratty cessna many years ago in Honolulu. When I asked the instructor what the deal was, and how old my rental was, I was surprised when told only 2 years old. That salt air is deadly to Aluminum!