Ford’s groundbreaking decision to make the switch from steel to aluminum for the creation of its 2015 F-150 created an understandable amount of buzz. After all, in 2014 the F-150 extended its reign as America’s best-selling truck and best-selling vehicle to 38 years and 33 years, respectively; why would Ford change a truck that has become the model of success in the American automotive market? Here are four great reasons:
- Environmental Impact
Independent studies show that aluminum vehicles save the equivalent of 44 million tons of Carbon Dioxide emissions per fleet. This is due to the fact that aluminum alloys are dramatically lighter than steel. The 2015 F-150 is 700 pounds lighter than previous models, and as a result will save consumers at the pump and significantly lessen its environmental impact.
Much has been made in recent weeks of the public notion that steel is a sturdier material than aluminum alloys, but as is so often the case, perception simply does not match reality. Unlike steel, aluminum doesn’t rust. And while the Man of Steel may dominate the page and screen, real American heroes trust aluminum with their life; the aluminum found in new F-150s is similar to that of U.S. military Humvees.
The aluminum F-150 outperformed its steel predecessor in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual safety rating, earning an overall five-star rating. While some of the F-150’s steel-paneled competitors were also awarded the NHTSA’s highest possible rating, others, like the Ram 1500, were deemed less collision-ready.
Finally, utilizing lighter-weight aluminum alloys allows for cars with improved acceleration, breaking, cornering, and handling. The 700 pounds the F-150 shed between 2014 and 2015 make for a big truck that is remarkably easy to drive.
While competitors will likely continue to attack the use of aluminum in the F-150, consumer interest in greener, safer, more durable, and better performing vehicles means that Ford will likely not be the last company to make the move to aluminum. Once again, Ford has proven that innovation and customer satisfaction go hand in hand.