For decades, America's best-selling pickup trucks turned a collective blind eye to what were foreseeable technological advances in most areas of their construction as Detroit's Big Three preferred simple solutions that significantly hiked up their profit margins.
However, these past few years, automakers like GM, Ford and Chrysler are slowly trying to modernize their trucks mostly in the name of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, especially now that the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel-Economy standards are getting stricter.
We've already seen some advances on the engine front including the availability of Ford's EcoBoost V6 on the F-150 and GM’s hybrid lineup, but there's more to come in different areas than you'd normally expect.
Citing two independent sources, Ward's Auto reported that Ford’s next-generation F-Series full-size pickup truck, code-named P552, will feature extensive use of aluminum body panels including doors and fenders. This will be a first for the F-Series as in the current model, only the hood is crafted from the lightweight material.
While Ford declined to comment on the matter, Doug Scott, the Detroit company's truck marketing manager told the news site that the Blue Oval is always looking for ways to improve its vehicles.
“We know our customers, and it’s all about the truck being a tool and they want it to be more productive and more efficient,” said Scott. “So we have to keep moving the needle if we want to be king of hill. We’re always looking at all the ways of doing that going forward and we have a great strategy.”
Ford's produce chief Derrick Kuzak has previously said that the company plans to shed up to 700 lbs. (318 kg) per model before 2019.
The extensive use of aluminum panels would help Ford shave several pounds off the next F-150 and in turn allow for lighter components in other areas.
"When vehicles weigh less you may need a smaller engine, or the brakes you need are going to be different, and that goes throughout the entire vehicle,” Kevin Lowery, spokesman for aluminum supplier Alcoa, told Wards Auto.
The next generation of the F-150 is scheduled for launch in 2014.