The 2015 F-150 has yet to be driven or tested by anyone outside of the Ford Motor Company, but some have already written the vehicle off due to concerns surrounding the durability of the truck’s aluminum body. The concern goes something like this: although using the latest high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys to form the body and cargo box will unequivocally help the truck shed weight to achieve better fuel economy and performance, it might also make the sheet metal less resistant to the abuse that owners subject their vehicles, whether for professional or recreational use… or both. But Ford seems to have thought of this, too.
That’s because the automaker is utilizing a new heat-treatment method. Developed by its engineers, the process, which Ford claims to be the first in the industry to utilize, nearly doubles the strength of aluminum. Additionally, Ford engineers infused the new F-150 with more “tough”, fling patent applications for spot welding methods, adhesives, and hydroforming — all of which are part of the 100+ patents filed by the automaker during the trucks’ development — the most in the automaker’s history. And all that will be built on top of the F-150’s strong and proven frame, which incorporates a significant amount of high-strength steel.
“Ford is teaching the world how to build a next-generation truck, and the more than 100 patents filed by the F-150 team for technologies on the 2015 truck further proves these Ford engineers and designers lead the automotive industry in innovation,” said a Ford representative in a news release.
Whether Ford’s newfangled aluminum heat-treatment method will be enough to make aluminum truly as tough as steel, thereby silencing critics and those concerned about the material’s durability, will remain up in the air until the truck launches later in 2014, or until Ford releases specifications that put the concerns to rest. Until then, enthusiasts and potential buyers can rest assured that The Blue Oval considered the potential drawbacks of using the material in place of traditional steel and have devised a plan that mitigates the downsides. Just as we thought.