Like many of you I seem to be the "go to" guy for family, friends, and co workers when they want an opinion about the automotive world. Over the past month the question that has come up the most is…"So what do you think about the new F-150?" My response is, "It's a nice truck but the lights look weird."... "But what about the aluminum?" they say, "Do you think it will be strong enough?"
I tell them that I do think that switching to aluminum is a gamble, but I am confident that the droves of Ford engineers have found a way to make the lighter metal work just fine for AMERICAS BEST SELLING VEHICLE! However, despite my examples regarding advances in high strength aluminum being used in other passenger cars, the Space Shuttle, and motorsports, many folks are still not convinced.
Maybe there is something deeper at work regarding this skepticism. After all, Americans for the most part have faith in technological progress. No one panicked when Apple made the Air notebook? No one said, "Will it still be able to compute? Go on the internet? Get me to Facebook?" So that is not the greatest example, we are used to our gadgets getting lighter. But not our trucks. Trucks are supposed to be heavy, because heavy equals strength.
And this is what we imagine when we think of our trucks...a vehicle that can do anything. The pickup truck is a symbol of American strength and fortitude, it represents our ability to "get things done."
Think back to history, what else represents America's strength?...Steel! Thanks to Andrew Carnegie, this country was literally built on steel: bridges, buildings, railways. We won wars with steel.
American steel was once the standard of the world. The Germans great make sport-sedans, Italians make great exotics, and the Japanese make great commuter cars. America makes great trucks. So perhaps the uneasiness of the car-buying public about the use of aluminum is rooted deeper in our psyche. Perhaps I am over psychoanalyzing this whole thing; I have been known to do that.
Andrew Carnegie revolutionized steel production, Henry Ford revolutionized automobile production. Both men knew without great risk there is no reward. I have faith that their "decendants" will come together and revolutionize the way America sees its beloved pickup truck. What do you think, is the skepticism regarding aluminium only about the material, or could it be something more?
@AutomatchTom is a professional car buying consultant, lover of all things automotive and a bit wagon obsessed. On a personal note, while I am not a "truck guy," I really want the aluminum F-150 to succeed, maybe it is just me being overly patriotic but If it does I will be proud to broker deals on them.
(F-150 images via Ford.com. Aircraft images via Wikipedia)