Ford is making major changes in its best-selling F-150 pickups by replacing steel with aluminium to shed over 700 pounds and boost fuel efficiency.
The future full-size F150 pickups will use the aluminium body to boost efficiency and reduce some extra weight. Ford made this major shift on the suggestion of both consumers and regulators alike. The new trucks hit production on Tuesday at its Dearborn Truck Plant.
Revamping its F-150 pickups, which has been America's best-selling car for 32 consecutive years and accounts for 90 percent of Ford's global automotive profit, is a big risk on the company's part. But the present CEO of the company, Mark Fields, remains optimistic about the ongoing innovation.
"I think that's what leaders do," Yahoo Finance quoted Fields as saying. "Our whole ethos as a company is to set new standards through innovation and with leadership comes responsibilities. When we ask customers what they wanted in their future trucks they told us they wanted more capability and fuel efficiency."
Showing off the all-new aluminium-bodied F-150 at the assembly line, four miles from the company's headquarters, Ford's executive chairman Bill Ford boasted about the risky move reported the Associated Press. Aluminium is widely used in the metal industry but Ford is the first to make an entire vehicle body using aluminium.
In order to produce the upcoming pickups with new specs, Ford needs to revamp its plants too, which will require a huge investment. As a result, Ford will produce 90,000 less units of F-150 pickups this year, which calls for a massive $3.6 billion dent in the company's potential revenue. The car maker's Q3 2014 earnings have been disappointing at $835 million, down from $1.3 billion during the same period last year. Year-over-year revenue also dropped $1 billion from $36 billion to $35 billion compared to last year.
On the brighter side, Ford's success with the new pickups will deliver 5 percent to 20 percent better fuel economy compared to the current model's 23mpg, AP reported. Replacing steel with aluminium will not affect the F-150's endurance as it is just as tough. The new trucks are expected to arrive at dealerships next month.