As our vice president might say, the 2015 F-150 is a big effin’ deal. This single vehicle, the best-selling in America for 32 years running, will make a bigger impact on U.S. fuel consumption than any hybrid could. By shifting to an aluminum body, the F-150 drops as much as 700 pounds – a weight loss that will result in at least a couple miles per gallon in better fuel economy, even more in models with the thrifty little 2.7-liter EcoBoost. By my cocktail-napkin calculations, within five years this truck alone could save us a billion gallons of gas. That’s more than a marketing triumph – it’s practically a matter of national security.
And the move to lightweight construction isn’t just about fuel economy – it ought to make the new F-150 great to drive. Less weight means better handling, shorter stops, and quicker acceleration. It means trucks that can tow and haul bigger loads because they have less of their own lard to drag around. Aluminum is even a boon to durability, because it doesn’t rust. Truck traditionalists who associate aluminum with beer cans and 2.7-liter motors with Communism may take time warming to the new F-150 – but warm they will, because this new F-150 is momentous. It’s also a risk, a massive investment staked on the premise that truck buyers want more sophistication than they’re getting. Ford probably could have built the F-150 out of pig iron and kept that streak going another 32 years. To its credit, it decided to do things the hard way.