Friday, December 27, 2013

Ford rolls dice with aluminum F-150

Innovative, adventurous rollout draws allegory to Boeing Dreamliner
DETROIT -- There are beer cans, and again there are Humvees. Ford Motor Co. will yield pains to appearance its new, aluminum F-150 auto has added in accepted with action vehicles.
Ford will acquaint an aluminum F alternation -- its advancing and high-stakes redesign of the top-selling auto in history -- at next month's Detroit auto show, according to humans accustomed with Ford's plans.
The automaker has asked Alcoa Inc., which makes aluminum bang bouncer for battlefield-bound vehicles, to accommodate some of its military-grade metal for the automaker's display, said one of those people, who asked not to be articular because the affairs are secret.
Ford's sales job will be considerable: The aggregation is acquisitive to authenticate the courage of aluminum, which is lighter than steel, to auto buyers who've fabricated F-150 the basement of its business.
Any snafus would counterbalance on balance that Ford already is bulging will abatement next year and add to the challenges adverse Mark Fields, acceptable the company's next arch controlling officer.
At endure year's Detroit show, he apprenticed that Ford would yield as abundant as 750 pounds (340 kilograms) out of its next- bearing trucks to accommodated abbreviating fuel-economy regulations.
"This is already the a lot of cogent admission at the auto show," said Joe Langley, a accumulation analyst for researcher IHS Automotive. "Everybody's traveling to be analytic that affair for a continued time, abnormally back Ford will be demography such a big gamble."
Reinventing trucks
The new F-150 represents a abstruse reimagining of a cornerstone for Ford and American automaking back the aggregation began architecture F-series trucks in the backward 1940s.
By January, the auto band will become America's acknowledged barter for 37 years and its acknowledged vehicle, period, for 32.
The rollout isn't accepted to be easy.
Manufacturing experts and steel-industry advocates say that affective to aluminum will crave axiological changes to how Ford barter bodies accomplish their way down the accumulation line.
Ford is abacus bags of salaried workers including abstruse engineers to abutment new-product introductions and assigned Fields, 52, the assignment of honing its processes afterwards contempo bungled rollouts accept amount the aggregation absent sales and big-ticket recalls.
The complicated about-face to aluminum from animate in the F-150's physique contributes to IHS Automotive's appraisal that Ford will charge to yield about six weeks of blow at anniversary of its barter plants to retool and bandy out robots and machinery.
Significant risk
As a transformative artefact with a potentially alarming introduction, the new F-150 has fatigued comparisons with Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner -- an aircraft developed beneath the company's bartering aeroplane arch at the time, Alan Mulally, who in 2006 became Ford's CEO.
With the 68-year-old Mulally advised a applicant for the CEO job at Microsoft Corp., the F-150 looms as a big analysis for Fields: The a lot of important of the 16 new or active models Ford affairs to acquaint in North America next year, amateur this year's number.
Fields has spent abundant of his time back accepting answer to the company's No. 2 role a year ago to adapt for those introductions, Arch Financial Administrator Bob Shanks said endure week.
A year ago, Fields appear a architecture abstraction alleged the Atlas, with a able-bodied exoteric attending that Ford will absorb with the new F-150, according to one being accustomed with its design.
Fuel efficiency
Using aluminum to cut weight would advice accommodated ascent fuel- abridgement standards in the United States, which is acute a fleetwide boilerplate of 54.5 afar per gallon by 2025.
Overseas markets are introducing agnate mandates, including the Middle East, area sales of F-Series trucks accept angled back endure year.
Ford builds F-150 pickups at two factories: one abreast its address and addition in Claycomo, Missouri, about a five-hour drive southwest from an Alcoa bulb in Davenport, Iowa, which food super-strong aluminum to the aegis industry and added grades for automakers.
Larger F-250 to F-550 trucks are accumulated in Louisville, Kentucky.
Monica Orbe, an Alcoa spokeswoman, beneath to altercate Ford's auto-show display.
The second-largest U.S. automaker has amorphous architecture prototypes of the archetypal that will admission in Detroit, according to two humans accustomed with the matter.
IHS Automotive estimates that the barter will go on auction in the additional bisected of next year.
Detroit show
Boasting a massive foreground end and blubbery chrome confined beyond a grille absolute by attenuated LED headlamps, the Atlas abstraction barter was bargain from the roof of the Joe Louis Arena in a columnist appointment on the aboriginal day of this year's Detroit auto show.
Ford has appointed an aboriginal morning columnist appointment on Jan. 13 at the amphitheater for the 2014 show, afterwards authoritative an official advertisement of what it affairs to unveil.
The next-generation F-150 will action a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, allotment of a ancestors of powertrains that Ford has code-named Nano, two humans said.
The aboriginal accessible engine in the approachable archetypal auto is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost.
Part of aluminum makers' angle to automakers has been that the actual will let them cut weight in two ways.
The aboriginal comes by substituting their failing actual in hoods, doors and added locations of the body.
The lighter physique again allows added apparatus such as ammunition tanks, brakes and powertrains to aswell shrink, all while advancement or convalescent active achievement and ammunition economy, according to companies including Alcoa and Novelis Inc.
Pushing 30
The accessible F-150 will advance Ford's pickups afterpiece to a 30 mpg artery rating, two humans said. The top-rated barter in the F-150 calendar for the 2014 archetypal year is 23 mpg highway.
A 10-speed manual that Ford is developing with General Motors and the light-duty barter amalgam systems that it collaborated on with Toyota Motor Corp. for analysis and development are two technologies that could addition Ford's trucks to the 30 mpg artery appraisement threshold, two humans said.
"We anticipate that the F-Series will finer re-write the aggressive standards for the full-size barter market," said Eric Noble, arch of auto-consulting close The Car Lab in Orange, Calif.
Both the F-150 and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner are "innovative articles application failing abstracts that advance the envelope about to competitors," Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays Plc., wrote in a address endure week.
Dreamliner comparison
Johnson said he asked Ford whether the new F-150 ran the accident of accumulation stumbles agnate to those accomplished by Chicago-based Boeing.
The 787 was three years abaft agenda and hasn't torn even.
While Ford had said it was assured in its accomplishment abilities, the anticipation that it will acquire $7 billion to $8 billion next year, afterwards an estimated $8.5 billion pretax accumulation for 2013, led him to admiration if he was "on to something," he said.
Since acceptable COO, Ford's Fields has implemented and led a Wednesday morning affair to analysis the metrics of Ford's accessible introductions, which are abounding by aggregation leaders in sales, artefact development, quality, manufacturing, purchasing and marketing.
The aim is to abstain a echo of blowzy new-model entries in the aforementioned attitude as Ford's Escape account vehicle, which has been recalled seven times back its admission in the aboriginal bisected of endure year.
Ford endure anniversary said that it will pay as abundant as $300 actor in assurance costs in 2013, primarily because of recalls of Escapes with 1.6-liter engines, which risked communicable blaze because of oil and ammunition leaks.
'Key product'
The action of ramping up to body F-150s application essentially added of the failing actual will be added alarming because of its barter lineup's scale.
Ford is on clip to advertise added than 750,000 F-Series pickups in the United States this year. It has delivered 175,490 Explorers, including badge versions, through November.
"F-150 is a actual key product, and some of the changes they're talking about this time do drag the risks in agreement of accepting that right," said Warren Gibbon, a armamentarium administrator at Standard Life Investments, which manages $290.8 billion including Ford and GM shares. "They should be able to cull it off."


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