Ford is hoping to chop 700lbs off the weight of its popular F-150. Other car manufacturers are embracing aluminium and Novelis is tripling its US production capacity of automotive sheet aluminium.
Exactly how much aluminium will be used in the new F-150 is not known, but weight reduction will play a major role in Ford's strategy going forward.
Aluminium, however, is more expensive than steel, it's claimed to be trickier to work with and its usage on the F-150 is liable to offend pick-up purists who want something robust and long-lasting.
According to Ducker Worldwide's MD Richard Schultz, it costs car makers between US$1.50 and US$2 to cut one pound of weight out of a vehicle using aluminium instead of steel. According to the Wall Street Journal, "His firm did a study showing that 800lbs could be cut out of the a 2008 full-size pickup by replacing steel with aluminium and a few other lightweight metals.He estimates it would cost about $1,500 extra in material costs to built an F-150 using that much aluminium."
In 2011, Ford sold 584,917 F-series trucks of which the F-150 accounted for 75% of sales.