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AdvancedManufacturing.org


Ford Motor Co. has converted its Super Duty line of pickups to aluminum body panels similar to the F-150.


Regulatory pressure pushing things along The impetus for lightweighting is regulatory pressure to


improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. Regulators, with rules set in 2012, had sought the US


vehicle fleet to average 54.5 mpg (23 km/l) by the 2025 model year. In July, regulators demonstrated how difficult achieving


the target will be. The US Department of Transportation, the US Environ-


mental Protection Agency and the California Air Resource Board filed what’s known as a draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR), which covered model years 2022–2025. The regulators said in prepared remarks that automak-


ers “are innovating and bringing new technology to market at a rapid pace.” But inside the actual 1217-page report, the regulators also said the 54.5-mpg target for model year 2025 wasn’t likely to happen under the standards. That fig- ure assumed that two-thirds of vehicle sales would be cars and one-third trucks. Consumers, however, continue to buy more trucks than envisioned by the regulators. The draft assessment report provided a range of 50 to


52.6 mpg (21.3–22.4 km/l), based on different scenarios for car and truck sales. The 50-mpg figure assumes 52% trucks and 48% cars while the 52.6-mpg figure assumes a mix of 62% cars and 38% trucks. In the first half of 2016, trucks accounted for almost 58% of US light-vehicle deliv- eries, according to Autodata Corp. The 54.5-mpg figure “was our best estimate in 2012 of


what manufacturers would, generally, produce for sale in 2025, and what their average compliance obligation would be,” Jose Alberto Ucles, a spokesman for the National High-


way Traffic Safety Administration, said in an e-mail. “Now that we have updated data… we have a new estimate of what manufacturers might end up building in the future.” The standards in all cases are more stringent for cars than trucks, which are larger and used to haul goods and supplies. The regulators, in their July statement, said the 2022–2025 standards “can be achieved by relying primarily on advanced gasoline vehicles.”


Ford makes big switch In some cases, lightweighting involves a lighter material


like aluminum becoming the main material. The most prominent switch to an aluminum body was


Ford’s F-150. The company estimated that cut the pickup’s weight by 700 lb (315 kg). The automaker is extending the move to aluminum with


the 2017 Super Duty (F-250 and above), which is often used for towing. Ford estimates the Super Duty’s alumi- num body will weigh as much as 350 lb (157.5 kg) less than the previous version. The company spent $1.3 billion at its Kentucky Truck


Plant in Louisville, which produces Super Duty trucks, to handle the change in materials. The investment included a new body shop. With the F-150 and Super Duty, only three assembly plants (two for F-150 and the Super Duty factory) were affected. The trucks are sold primarily in North America, so the supply chain is relatively compact. Also, the F-Series is Ford’s highest volume vehicle line and its main source of profit. Thus, the investment needed to switch to an alumi- num body could be supported.


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Fall 2016


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