Aluminum bodies for Ford F-150s? A special Mustang
Reports that Ford is considering an all-aluminum body for its bestselling F-150 pickup puts us at one of those Robert Frost junctions on the path of automotive progress.
Ford certainly would be heading down the “road less taken” in going the aluminum body route as well as looking at the possibility of big payoffs in the future.
However, taking chances in the auto industry isn’t something for the faint of heart. Ford has done it several times lately with a big win and a loss.
A few years back, Ford took the plunge and went all in with its Sync system and got burned when consumer complaints about the system piled up and hurt its reliability ratings.
This time the result could be a huge win:
1. Industry analysts speculate that the move, saving an estimated 700 pounds, could bring a 25 percent increase in fuel economy, more if it enables Ford to use even smaller engines.
2. Other automakers, as they did with connectivity systems, likely would hang back, letting Ford take the risk. Thus, if Ford’s play is a winner, the company not only gets the jump on the competition but then also has a running head start as others play catch up.
This doesn’t have the same feel as messing with the recipe for Classic Coca-Cola.
If F-150 owners were going to be resistant to change, it would have shown two years ago when the company made a major move to the EcoBoost (turbocharged) engine and naturally aspiratedV-6s (though optional V-8s still are available).
Why wouldn’t an aluminum body be Fordtough enough? In fact, most trucks wind up with sturdy plastic or sprayed-in bed-liners anyway, and most truck owners are surprisingly careful with their vehicles.
Michelle Krebs, highly respected Edmunds. com senior analyst, says,“Competitors are petrified by the breakthroughs that Ford might make in weight reduction and fuel economy.The F-150 is already the dominant truck in the marketplace, and if Ford can convince its customers that an aluminum truck can withstand the same paces that their current trucks endure, then this could shake up the segment even more than when Ford introduced EcoBoost in 2011.”
The present 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is rated at 22 miles per gallon in highway driving (18 mph combined) even as it delivers 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.
Still, the move won’t be taken lightly. Through 2011, the F-150 has been the nation’s best-selling pickup for 35 years and the bestselling US vehicle overall for 30 years.
The Red Tails Mustang
Daughter G wasn’t thrilled about going to see a war movie with one of her professional groups in Connecticut.
“We’re going to see ‘Red Tails,’ about World War II,” she said.
“Let me send you a photo of a one-of-a-kind Mustang Ford built to celebrate the Tuskegee Airmen and the P-51 Mustang fighters they flew,” I wrote back.
Her response: “The movie was great AND the car looked just like the planes,” she now says.“Is the car for sale?”
Well, it was.
The car was auctioned for $370,000 to James Slattery of San Diego during last week’s Gathering of Eagles charity auction at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh 2012.
It carries a ceremonial VIN of 00051.
The exterior has a nonproduction aluminum finish paint with “race red” and “school bus yellow” trim, following the planes’own trim.
Flip the Switch
Rep. William R. Keating, whose district includes the South Shore, Cape, and Islands, will be in Hanover at Planet Subaru at noon this Wednesday to officially throw the switch for the opening for the solar panel array that’s been powering Planet Subaru’s offices and showroom for almost a year now. The panels provide nearly half the dealership’s power needs and produce enough power to supply eight homes for a year. CEO Jeff Morrill, who brings a sense of humor to the operation, jokes, “What do we call it if there’s a massive solar spill (sending power back to the grid)? A great day.”
The moose test—basically a standard rollover test—got a lot of international attention because of its name and because a Jeep Grand Cherokee reportedly failed, then passed, it. The German publication that did the second test said the Jeep passed, both with two passengers aboard and when fully loaded. Jeep was eager to pass that news along. The test name, however, brought back the disconcerting memory of many dead deer and one dead moose seen along the road during two days of driving in Utah. Neither car nor animal passed those tests.
Bill Griffith can be reached at WGriffith@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrAutoWriter.