Starting in the fourth quarter, Ford Motor Co. planned to begin using multiple components in the F-150 pickup made from next-generation aluminum produced through Alcoa's Micromill process.
Late this year, Ford will begin using Micromill for three tailgate reinforcement parts, followed by box crossmembers, wheelhouses, floor pan tunnels, and other parts in 2016. Those parts are already made of aluminum, but Ford could potentially replace high-strength steel components with the new metal.
Ford has high hopes for the material in door panels, fenders, and other complex parts, and plans to design new parts specifically for Micromill aluminum.
Ford expects to double its use of Micromill between 2016 and 2017.
Ford and Alco also plan to use the metal in other vehicles and in a broader array of parts. Ford has exclusive rights to Micromill in North America for an undisclosed time period. Danieli Group will license Micromill in Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America.
‘‘Light-weighting enables us to design vehicles with great customer attributes – like the F-150, which can tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop faster than the previous F-150, and is more fuel-efficient than ever,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president and chief technical officer, Global Product Development. “This collaboration supports our continued drive for innovation, as we research automotive applications for even greater light-weighting.”
In 2014, Ford rolled out the 2015 F-150 with an aluminum alloy body. That model is 700 pounds lighter than previous releases.
Ford's Super Duty pickups, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator are all due for aluminum body makeovers in their next redesign, but Ford and Alcoa have yet to confirm whether or not Micromill will be part of those vehicles.