Ford is again taking a risk of using aluminum bodies with the inauguration of 2017 F-Series Super Duty pickup, which is planned today at State Fair of Texas.
Just like F-150, chassis cabs and F-Series Super Duty lineup of pickups are switching to aluminum body from steel. However, the frames will be made up of high strength steel.
“It is the toughest, most capable Super Duty we’ve ever done,” said Raj Nair, head of global product development.
The first risk taken by ford was to convert the bed and body of F-150 to aluminum. For this, two assembly plants were down for months and the sales were hurt in 2014’s final months.
According to Ford spokesperson Mike Levine, Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville will not have to be down during the conversion process, but there will be a normal summer shutdown next year.
The new body shop of Kentucky is almost complete and it will be easier for the truck to ramp up in the fall of 2016, when the production will start.
Levine would not comment on ford’s zoning requests to expand the manufacturing there.
If the downtime is reduced, it does not mean that Ford is not taking risk. Ford has 64 % market of chassis cab and heavy-duty truck segment of 43% on line. These trucks are pulling good profits for the makers, just like F-150.
Kentucky Truck made F-series include a varied lineup from basic truck to F-550. For various uses, from ambulance to damp truck- 25% of the customers buy chassis cab.
Dennis Slevin, vehicle-engineering manager, said, “This is the first all-new cab for the truck that was first introduced 17 years ago and the first truck in the segment to have an all-aluminum cab”.
As the material of the trucks is light, engineers were free to introduce solid parts like larger hitches, axles and brakes, stronger transfer cases and Driveline. The overall weight will be more reduced to 350 pounds.
The truck is wider, higher from the ground and 5 inches longer than the previous model,” said Gordon Platto, chief designer for F-Series trucks.
There are five trims: King Ranch, XL, XLT, Platinum and Lariat. The five grills appear like a metal wall approaching. Platto said that the blue oval is 13 inches longer on the front of the truck. “It may not look it, but the truck is as aerodynamic as its predecessor”, he said.