US: Ford continues to play the aluminum card

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On Thursday, during the State Fair of Texas the second largest US automaker presented its second pickup truck that makes extensive use of aluminum – the 2017 F-Series Super Duty. Ford has not conceded to the critics that urge against its use of aluminum for the body of its best-selling trucks and has decided to double down the use of the lightweight metal after revealing the 2017 F-Series Super Duty pickup, while using a high-strength steel frame would employ aluminum for the body. The F-Series Super Duty lineup of pickups and chassis cabs is now going the same road as the F-150 in using aluminum instead of steel for the body. “It is the toughest, most capable Super Duty we’ve ever done,” commented Raj Nair, head of global product development. Ford took a major gamble when opting to change the entire production process and close down its two assembly facilities for months as it switched the body and bed of the iconic F-150 to aluminum from steel. The decision took a heavy toll on sales during the final part of last year and well into this year as inventories for the model were slow to build. Fortunately for the carmaker now the majority of the hard work has passed, as the conversion of the Super Duty lineup will not have the same impact on the factory – other than the usual summer shutdown at the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville. Kentucky Truck already has an all-new body shop that is close to completion and increasing production in the fall of next year would be easier. But the stakes are still high – the automaker has a 43 percent market share in the heavy-duty truck segment and commends 64 percent of the chassis cab sector.