In a wide-ranging interview with Truck Trend, 2015 Ford F-150 Chief Engineer Pete Reyes explained how using aluminum was a natural progression realized during the early stages of the truck’s development. The more Ford learned and studied it, the more it became the material of choice.
With a tagline of “Lighter, Stronger, Smarter,” Reyes said Ford developed a slew of different design and material ideas to achieve its goals. At each stage, aluminum and other metals like steel were studied to see which was better. There were also discussions on mixing and matching aluminum with steel. Ultimately, the full use of aluminum became the agreed-upon plan from engineering, accounting and leadership. Reyes says he cannot recall a meeting where the teams were split. Instead, it was really an evolution wherein those involved studied the various alternatives and bought into the aluminum approach. This decision was solidified throughout the organization up to then-Ford CEO Alan Mulally by August, 2010.
A big selling feature of aluminum was its light-weight properties and also how it could be cut and welded, translating well into the next stage of discussions: manufacturing, serviceability, and reparability. Each step required quite a bit of thought and planning, Reyes said. The teams studied the new raw material, developed a manufacturing process, built tools and even changed the design of the truck to make the best use of the aluminum.
In the end, Reyes said that Ford really did its homework from building the vehicle understanding the needs of service and repair facilities. Despite what critics say, the all-new 2015 F-150 wasn’t rushed to market. Instead, the progression has come to an end and is finished, with the truck being ready for launch.