Right now in the pickup truck world, attention is focused on the carbon fiber bed option for the new GMC Sierra. A few years back, however, it was the Ford F-150 bathed in limelight – and crosshairs of competitors – for its extensive use of aluminum not just for the bed, but throughout the popular pickup. The shift away from steel resulted in a dramatic weight loss for the world’s best-selling truck, but the competition mercilessly attacked Ford with claims that aluminum would be terrifically expensive to repair, and as a consequence, costly to insure.
With a few years of real-world miles now under its aluminum belt, it seems the competition was wrong about the F-150. A new report from Automotive News says repair costs for the aluminum-intensive truck aren’t so costly after all. In fact, it appears repair costs could actually be less than Ford’s steel-bodied predecessors, and in some cases, a lot less. The report cites an experience from a Ford dealership in Texas that had a slew of hail damaged trucks in 2017. Some of the aluminum-bodied repairs were up to $2,000 cheaper to fix than comparatively damaged steel-bodied trucks.
Gallery: 2018 Ford F-150: First Drive
How can that be? According to the report, Ford sought ways to simplify the repair process when designing the aluminum-intensive truck. Its modular architecture allows for easier access in some areas to remove and replace components, thus reducing labor hours. Prices for at least some replacement parts are also said to be lower, with the report pointing to stats from the Highway Loss Data Institue that shows total parts costs for the 2015-2016 aluminum F-150 are down 16 percent compared to the prior year. In-depth training for Ford dealers on repairing the trucks is also a factor, though not all dealerships might be as prepared to knock out cost-effective repairs as the aforementioned Blue Oval dealer in Texas.
That said, lower repair costs don't appear to be a one-location thing. The report also mentions the latest insurance data from the Highway Loss Data Institute that reveals collision claim severity is down seven percent for the aluminum trucks, thanks to lower repair costs. That’s offset, however, by a rise in the frequency of claims – presumably due to the less durable nature of aluminum. Still, it all balances out in the end, and combined with a strong educational campaign for insurance adjusters on behalf of Ford, it seems the lighter aluminum trucks aren’t any more costly to insure than earlier steel models as a result.
Has your experience with aluminum F-150 costs been different? Tell us about it in the comments.
Source: Automotive News