Ford Sees the Way to MPG Though Lightweighting

Ford Sees the Way to MPG Though Lightweighting


2015 Ford F-150 – It’s a game-changer

New Aluminum-Intensive F-150 Pickup Leads the Way.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) aka the Detroit Auto Show is where the best and brightest, the newest ideas in cars and trucks appear first. It’s the big stage, and the 2014 NAIAS stage had many stories, but the biggest was that of Ford’s reinventing of its best-seller, the F-150 pickup.

The significance of Ford’s announcement of its aluminum-intensive 2015 F-150 should not be underestimated. Ford presented them as a “challenge to the industry.” This truck has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S

. for 32 years and the best-selling pickup for 37. It is the cash cow of the Ford franchise, bringing in the lion’s share of profits when the company is making money and helping keep it from sinking when times are tough.


Ford’s Got a Corner on Aluminum

As Doug Scott, the Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager, said of the significance of the aluminum move: “It applies to all models, all powertrains.” The weight-loss program should result in fuel economy improvements across the board for all Ford trucks (Ford hasn’t released official EPA numbers). That, in turn, should help them competitively.

Recent ads from its main competitor, the Chevy Silverado, claimed the Chevy pickup’s V-8 turned in better fuel economy than Ford’s V-6. And Ram is introducing a light-duty diesel that should boost its fuel economy.

How Will the Market Respond?

In addition, truck buyers are thought to be conservative, traditionally oriented purchasers more interested in something tried and true (like a perennial best-selling truck) than anything different from what they expect.

Ford began challenging those market assumptions in 2011 when it introduced a turbocharged direct-injection V-6 EcoBoost engine as the preferred engine for their pickup, challenging truck buyers’ tried-and-true preference for V-8s. They’ve had some success and the new version of the pickup will add a brand-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, scaling down things even more and doubling the EcoBoost options. Ford said they expect this graphite iron block engine to b the most popular of the four engine options since it will deliver V-8 power with better than V-6 fuel economy and also will employ Ford’s Auto Start Stop technology. But the 2015 aluminum-intensive truck is arguably an even bigger challenge to sell to truck buyers used to a steel-encased truck for their work.


Name’s the same, but not the game

Ford has done something no one else has been able to do in a mass-produced vehicle – take significant weight (up to 700 pounds, varying from model to model) out of a vehicle. That weight reduction, which comes both from the switch to aluminum in the body (450 pounds) and high-strength steel in the frame (60 pounds), enables other weight-saving moves such as being able to use smaller, lighter engines to do the same (or even more) work in a truck that probably will still weigh in at more than two tons. They have been working with aluminum since the 1970s, although this is clearly the biggest engagement with the metal they (or anyone else in the auto industry) has ever attempted, making it a central part of a vehicle so popular that one is sold every 41 seconds.

What F-150 Chief Engineer Pete Reyes said, they have learned things over the years and learned even more during the three-year development process of this truck. One thing they found is that they could upgrade the gauge of the aluminum from their original specs without compromising the weight savings, resulting in a more durable body and bed.

Like Chrysler with its minivan franchise, Ford has been leveraging its massive installed base to pull ideas for improvements to the F-150 for years. But those are the sort of changes that result in incremental improvements and tend to keep a segment leader ahead of the pack. What Ford has done here is no incremental improvement. It’s also unlikely that it came from a customer suggestion. Innovation comes from somewhere else. The 2015 F-150 shows that Ford has got the kind of moxie to keep moving a step (or more) beyond where everyone else might be. We’ll have to wait and see how the market reacts to the new truck, but the same market that has been signing on for EcoBoost engines will undoubtedly embrace the new lighter, but just as capable pickup.

Story & Photos By Michael Coates

Posted Jan. 22, 2014


We’ll watch to see if the F-150 keeps a step ahead




Ford Wins EcoGlobe Award for Technology in Fiesta ECOnetic

Ford Wins EcoGlobe Award for Technology in Fiesta ECOnetic

Ford FiestaPress Announcement (9/14/10)

Ford wins a major environmental award for its new technology that makes engines more efficient and uses some hybrid technology, such as auto-start-stop and braking regen energy without the cost of a true hybrid electric. Ford has received a prestigious EcoGlobe award in recognition of its achievements in introducing environmentally-advanced, yet affordable technical solutions under the Ford ECOnetic Technologies programme.

The award – one of ten presented annually by an independent jury for what they consider are outstanding environmentally-friendly vehicle solutions – was presented to the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic as a representative model from the Ford ECOnetic Technologies range. With CO2 emissions of just 98 g/km, the Fiesta ECOnetic is one of Europe’s most fuel efficient, low CO2 passenger cars.

The Ford’s ECOnetic Technologies programme was launched earlier in 2010. It is a customer-driven initiative bringing together a range of vehicle features and technologies specifically targeting better fuel economy, reduced emissions and overall lower cost of ownership, including:

  • Ford EcoBoost – all-new petrol engines featuring turbocharging and direct injection technology to provide the performance of a larger displacement engine with the fuel economy and CO2 benefits of a smaller unit.
  • Ford Duratorq TDCi – a range of high-efficiency common-rail diesel engines which have been further improved to deliver even better fuel economy and lower CO2.
  • Ford PowerShift transmission – an advanced dual-clutch design, combining the efficiency, optimised gear ratios and driving enjoyment of a manual gearbox with the smoothness and ease-of-use of a conventional automatic.
  • Ford Auto-Start-Stop – automatically cuts the engine when at a standstill and restarts it as required by the driver to avoid unnecessary fuel use.
  • Smart Regenerative Charging (SRC) – creates electrical energy from braking movements to enhance existing power sources.
  • Active Grille Shutter – variable grille opening which reduces when the vehicle is at speed to improve air flow efficiency and lower fuel consumption.
  • Ford ECO Mode – an driver information system that helps educate the driver to achieve improved real-world fuel economy.
  • Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) – a more efficient steering system which reduces the drain on power reserves and thereby supports more efficient operation.
  • Gear Shift Indicator – advises the driver of the most efficient point for gear changes.

In addition to ECOnetic Technologies, Ford also continues to offer dedicated ultra-low emission ECOnetic models, including the EcoGlobe-winning Fiesta, the Focus, Mondeo and Transit. These Ford fuel economy hero vehicles feature unique technologies including longer gearing, specific engine calibrations, special aerodynamic packages, and ultra-low rolling resistance tires, in different combinations according to model.

Longer term, Ford ECOnetic Technologies will expand to include a range of other hi-tech features under development, including further weight reduction and aerodynamic improvements, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, biofuel-capable vehicles, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

“Ford is committed to achieving class-leading fuel economy and CO2 levels through affordable technological innovation, yet without compromising design or driving fun,” said Wolfgang Schneider, Vice President Legal, Governmental and Environmental Affairs, Ford of Europe.

EcoGlobe was founded by a consortium comprised of the DEVK insurance company based in Cologne; the German automobile club, ACV; the Öko-Globe Institute of the University of Duisburg; and the environmental artist HA Schult.