Ford Motor Company has reached a new deal with Alcoa that will expand its aluminum use in the F-150 pickup as well as in other vehicles. A big change for the lightweight metal as the car industry has long favored the use of steel.
The agreement allows Ford to use more aluminum alloys that will be debuting this year on the top selling pickup from the company and will eventually be used on other models of Ford over a period of time.
The No. 2 automaker in the U.S. received aluminum for other suppliers for the body of its F-150. However, the new aluminum casting technology at Alcoa will allow the carmaker to make more parts like fenders using the aluminum officials at the company said Monday.
For Ford, this deal expands its already aggressive embrace of the metal that exceeds that of its rivals.
The F-150, the company’s most profitable and best-selling model, is the first mass market vehicle in the industry with a body made of aluminum.
Using aluminum, Ford cut the weight of the vehicle by 700 pounds compared to its prior model and increased its fuel efficiency 5% to 29%.
The product chief at Ford, Raj Nair, said he sees a great deal of potential in the use of aluminum.
The fact we have started to collaborate on technology at this level shows a big commitment by both companies.
The contract for Alcoa was crucial, as it aims to grow its aluminum sheet automotive business by 2018 to $1.3 billion from its $229 million during 2013.
Deals such as these with Ford help Alcoa combat falling prices of aluminum and a weaker China economy a big purchaser of aluminum.
Alcoa’s new casting technology allows for alloy that shapes easier than even traditional aluminum, making it a top candidate for complex types of parts such as door panel interiors and fenders.
Alcoa said the new process would allow it to compete for many more vehicle parts than it once thought.