If you’re an automotive enthusiast (and since you’re reading this, it’s a safe assumption, at least to a degree), then you must be living under a hell of a rock if you haven’t yet heard that Ford (NYSE:F) has swapped large sheet metal portions of its new F-150 from steel to aluminum, thus saving — in some instances — as much as 700 pounds off the curb weight of its predecessor.
For you sub-stone dwellers, that’s the basic gist, but that decision comes with implications — mostly good, and some more challenging. The new material has never been used in such a mass-market application, and it’s the first time that its been used in such a rugged context. Ford has reportedly torture-tested the material for 10 million-plus miles to ensure that its capable of dealing with whatever truck owners choose to throw at it.
Losing weight, on a vehicle, is very rarely a bad thing. Losing pounds can help boost braking and handling, and cut fuel consumption. All these things are true for the F-150 (the company is expecting fuel efficiency gains to at least 5 percent and as much as 20 percent better than the existing model), but when it comes to trucks, significant figures that buyers will be looking at is the payload and towing capacity, which Ford just revealed on Monday.
The new F-150 will have a maximum payload of 3,300-pounds when equipped with the 5.0 liter V8, and a maximum towing capacity of 12,200 pound when the EcoBoost V6 is installed. For the first time, the trucks are compliant with the Society of Automotive Engineer’s (or SAE) J2807 standards. These figures set a new bar for the industry to beat.
The physics behind Ford’s now-leading numbers are pretty straightforward. Provided the engine power remains constant (which it largely has), less weight built into the truck means more weight that it can bring around with it. Since the new F-150s are down by hundreds of pounds, the weight savings from the material can be translated into increased payload and tow capacities.
Ford recently began shipping out the new F-150 to select dealers, or “dealer sales consultants,” to begin test driving the new truck in 26 cities around the country. “Once again, Ford F-150 establishes new standards in durability, capability, technology, and efficiency,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas. “We keep raising the bar on America’s favorite truck to help F-150 owners be more productive 24/7 — whether for work or weekend fun.”
The 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 is rated at a payload of 3,180 pounds and a tow capacity of the aforementioned 12,200 pounds. The new 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 is good for towing 8,500 pounds and features a payload rating of 2,250 pounds. The base 3.5 liter naturally aspirated V6 can move 1,910 pounds on board, and tow 7,600 pounds. In addition to its leading payload weight of 3,300 pounds, the V8 can tow a not-insignificant 11,500 pounds.
The new F-150 has been in the hands of automotive journalists and critics for a few days now, and early reports are beginning to trickle in. All told, the new F-150 sounds like it will live up to its reputation, and fellow automakers will have a fresh challenge to face in the coming months.