Despite the Ford Atlas concept’s all-steel construction, rumors still persist that the 2015 Ford F-150 may switch to aluminum. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and Space X, contributed to the rumor mill at the Detroit auto show:
“From what I’ve heard, they’re using 7000-series aluminum, which is the right step. It’s very strong and light—it’s the same alloy we use to build rockets. There are many different alloys you can use, and a lot of manufacturers use 5000-series aluminum, but 7000 is twice as strong. It can’t be traditionally welded; it must be bonded or mechanically joined or friction welded.”
All those methods are production-viable. Friction welding seems most likely, but, regardless, the retooling needed to switch from steel to 7000-series aluminum would require massive investment.
Read about what WOT thinks the 2015 Ford F-150 needs to succeed here.
When queried about Audi, another pioneer in aluminum usage, and specifically its A8 flagship sedan, Musk was somewhat dismissive.
“You know, we’ve examined what they’ve done, and some of it didn’t make a lot of sense the way the parts fit together and the types of alloys used.
“I’m very curious about how Ford is going about [the new F-150]. Honestly, we may have something to learn. Our chassis is a bit heavy; it could stand to lose a little weight.”
By Edward Loh