Test The Limits

Putting America’s Favorite Truck on an Aluminum Diet

By Steve Remondi

July 21 2014

In a bet-the-farm move , Ford is going to build the 2015 F-150 of aluminum, reducing its weight by a reported 700 lbs. Because of the size and importance of F-150 to Ford (2014 YTD sales as of June, 2014: an astounding 365,825 units), the company has gone all out to, in effect, create its own atmosphere around the manufacturing and service of these new light trucks. Changing an entire industry — actually, several industries — isn’t something a company tries on a whim. Even with Ford’s resources, the decision to do so must have been both wrenching and years in the making.

So, why go to such extremes? Why does America’s favorite truck need to lose hundreds of pounds? In a word: CAFE. Ford has decided to, in one blow, “lightweight” its most important vehicle. This is clearly a decision made at the top to stake out the leadership position in lightweighting, which everyone agrees, is one of the best ways to achieve mandated CAFE requirements.

But, like small-displacement turbo charging and transaxles with eight or even nine (!) ratios, it’s only a matter of time before aluminum-intensive design and manufacturing becomes commonplace in mass-produced automobiles. Even for F-150, once lightweighted, how will Ford continue to achieve the ever-increasing demands of CAFE?

At Exa, we know exactly what to do: rigorously simulate and visualize  every part, every assembly, every component that goes into a vehicle program. It’s only through using 3D design data for simulation throughout the design and engineering process that continued gains in lightweighting will be achieved. Sure, current needs will be addressed by simply changing  materials. But that’s a fleeting success. To ensure continued competitive advantage — or gain some in your current program — we offer the industry’s leading automotive simulation technology.

So consider this: is your program just doing what everyone else’s program is doing or are you making the best possible use of advanced technology to ensure your vehicle meets both marketing and regulatory performance requirements?