“US New Auto Sales: Ford F-Series Pickup Truck Deliveries Drop; Ford Explorer Soars” – International Business Times, 3 March 2015

This past December, Ford rolled out its aluminum-body F-150 truck, the first of its kind for the company, but it seems like the new truck is just not cutting it: sales dipped for the car manufacturer’s F-Series truck line this February, and has put the company squarely behind its competitors.

Typically, the F-150 has the highest selling rate in the US; however, this February, overall sales dropped by two percent. Ford believes sales will continue to grow by 8 percent this year to 1.29 million units, compared to February 2014.

The Ford Transit light commercial vehicle and the Transit Connect compact panel van gave Ford trucks a four percent boost, even though the F-series line dropped by 1.2 percent. The Explorer full-sized crossover also gave the company’s stats a little nudge— the crossover jumped by 32 percent to sell 17,027 units.

It’s a shame that Ford’s F-150 isn’t selling as well as we’d hoped, since the company went through the entire process of shifting from a steel to aluminum body, which required new equipment and manufacturing processes. Obama has made this move a requirement for the automobile industry, mandating that manufacturers double new-car average fuel economy by 2025.

(From International Business Times)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 4, 2015

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“GM Secures Aluminum for Trucks” – Wall Street Journal, 19 February 2014

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

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Will All-Aluminum Cars Drive Metals Industry?” – Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2014

Obama’s 2010 mandate that obligates car manufacturers to double new-car average fuel economy by 2025 has pushed the car industry to produce more fuel efficient cars at a faster rate. Ford’s next F-150 — the US’s largest selling vehicle — is currently being redesigned and rebuilt with an all-aluminum body, a huge helping hand to both Obama’s fuel efficiency mandate and the aluminum industry.

Two big players in the Ford’s aluminum round-up are Alcoa and Novelis, the nation’s top aluminum sheet producers. In 2013, both companies spent $1 billion in opening new aluminum sheet factories, tailored to the auto industry. Raw aluminum prices have dropped by more than a third since 2011 — Alcoa and Novelis are hoping their new investments increase their profit margins.

The aluminum industry is making a huge bet. While aluminum is lighter, and better for fuel efficiency and the economy, it might not be better for pocketbooks — aluminum costs almost three times more than steel, the traditional metal used to manufacture cars. Moreover, using aluminum to produce vehicles requires new machinery; machinery used to manufacture cars from steel isn’t compatible with aluminum.

Only Audi and Jaguar — cars that a majority of the public can’t afford — have created all-aluminum vehicles. Ford’s new endeavor will likely trim 700 pounds from the currently-5,000-pound truck; this reduction will allow for a 7% growth in the truck’s fuel economy.

The aluminum market is now only valued at almost $300 per year. If more car companies choose to manufacture all-aluminum cars, then the market can skyrocket to $7.5 billion by 2025, a huge blessing for the aluminum industry, which is undergoing oversupply and low raw aluminum price issues.

The car industry is urging every aluminum company to invest, asking different manufacturers to produce different parts so there isn’t one that could dominate pricing. There is more than enough business for everyone: one contract for a mass-produced part can be valued at more than $50 million.

The question is, will there be enough raw aluminum materials and fabrication capacities to successfully undertake this venture, even though time has come to further enhance recycling and production of recycle-friendly automotive aluminum alloys in commerce? See a publication on this subject by Dr. Das – “The Development of Recycle-Friendly Automotive Aluminum Alloys“.

See also:
A Clean Car Boom
GM Planning Strict Diet for New Pickup Trucks

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 13, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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