Ford is on a diet. The American carmaker recently reduced the weight of the 2015 Ford F-150 significantly, thanks to the use of lightweight materials. So much weight, in fact, that Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) have named the Ford Motor Company the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award.
“We are happy to congratulate Ford for winning the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award,” said Dave Mason, Vice President of Global Automotive at Altair. “It’s encouraging to see Ford implementing a holistic lightweighting strategy, which resulted in impressive weight savings that were incredibly significant to the judging panel.”
The pickup truck was recognized for its total weight reduction of up to 700 pounds, while still being able to maintain its best-in-class towing, payload, and EPA-estimated gasoline fuel economy—not to mention five-star government crash test ratings for every cab configuration!
Much of the 700 pounds were saved by using high-strength, aerospace-grade aluminum alloys throughout the F-150 body, not only reducing weight but also improving dent and ding resistance. Ford also increased the use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel from 23 percent to 77 percent of the frame, improving stiffness and durability while saving about 60 pounds. No wonder they’re selling like hotcakes at Hassett!
Back in 2011, Ford sent out six prototype F-150 trucks to three of its best industrial customers. Ford gave the companies these trucks for free and told them to put these trucks to work. What these customers didn’t know is that the beds were made of aluminum.
“We wanted to test the truck outside, in the harshest conditions and in the hands of real customers, with no limits,” Ford stated in a release. “So when we gave them the prototype vehicles, we told them to use the trucks like their other…trucks, and we would be back to follow their progress.”
Over the course of two and half years, Ford checked in every three months to see how the trucks were holding up and to get any customer feedback. The results were very good. The beds didn’t crack and could take a pounding and keep working. However, the customers did notice a couple oddities: magnets wouldn’t stick to the bed and scratches didn’t rust.
Based on the feedback, Ford made a few changes, it made the aluminum floor thicker, altered the aluminum alloy to make it stronger, and modified the tailgate design.
The testers finally learned the secret along with the rest of the world at the 2015 F-150’s reveal this past January.
Want to put the all-new aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 to the test yourself? It will be rolling into Hassett Automotive later this year.