Feeling the competition from Ford’s 2015 all-aluminum F-150 and pressure from Obama’s new fuel efficiency standards, GM is looking to build an all-aluminum pickup truck, scheduled to be unveiled in 2018. Both Ford and GM are working with aluminum suppliers Alcoa and Novelis for aluminum sheeting.
Before, GM wasn’t seeking to create an all-aluminum body pickup, but rather manufacturing lighter steel-bodied trucks. Rather than invest in aluminum—which can be very costly—GM decided to produce two small trucks for 2015, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Both have improved fuel economies.
Chrysler also hasn’t made the dive into aluminum: instead, the company has decided to increase the mileage of its still all-steel Ram trucks with improved transmissions, axles and engines. The slated Ram 1500 diesel will get 28 miles to the gallon, a vast improvement.
In 2013, GM sold almost 665,000 of its two truck models, and Ford sold 763,000 of its F-series trucks. Both make a profit of $7,000 from an individual sale. Ford, with it’s all-aluminum F-150, is still ahead of the curve. GM’s 2014 models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks undersold in September with numbers worse than the previous year.
In 2008, GM mulled over the idea of creating an all-aluminum body, but decided that the switch would be too costly and reckless during the automotive industry’s decline. Now, GM says that it can trump Ford’s head-start through breakthrough welding and assembly techniques.
The move from steel to aluminum is indeed costly. This year, Ford will shut down its assembly plants for 13 weeks to set up the new equipment required to manufacture the aluminum truck.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
March 28, 2014
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