Ford's Radical New F-150: What Do the Experts Say?

The all-new 2015 Ford F-150 was the star of January's North American International Auto Show -- and a hot topic of conversation among industry experts. Source: Ford Motor Company.

Lots of big news came out of the North American International Auto Show in January, but some of the biggest had to do with Ford's  (NYSE: F  ) new pick-ups. The new F-150 doesn't look particularly revolutionary at first glance, but it sports something radical for an American pickup: Aluminum body panels.

It's a far cry from flimsy beer-can aluminum, though. Ford worked with Alcoa  (NYSE: AA  ) to develop a special high-strength aluminum alloy similar to what the U.S. military uses in its armored vehicles, and then put its new trucks through tough real-world testing before revealing them to the world. 

We -- The Motley Fool's John Rosevear and Rex Moore -- were at the Ford event that opened the show where the trucks were unveiled for the first time. Ford's event was an impressive one, and the new F-150 definitely had everyone talking. In fact, the new pick-ups were the talk of the show, at least among the industry analysts and experts that were in attendance.

Did Ford make the right move by switching to aluminum? How would Ford's loyal buyers respond? Was this the right time to make such a radical shift? Questions like those, and many more, were hotly debated.

We were right in the middle of some of those conversations. While at the show, we spent some time talking to several key auto-industry analysts about Ford's new truck, including's Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. She's an expert that we at The Motley Fool often look to for insight into sales trends in the U.S. pick-up market.

In this short video, you'll hear Jessica and John give their first-impression thoughts on Ford's radical decision to make its best-selling pickup out of aluminum. Check it out, then scroll down to leave a comment with your thoughts on Ford's new trucks.

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Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 8:48 AM, johnnynorstar wrote:

    Tough my ass, my 2009 F150 rotors ROTTED away with only 30,000 miles but because i was over the warranty in time by 2 months Ford would not help me at all.


  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 9:14 AM, Tgspiro wrote:

    Hey, boy dog, buy a Toyota if your so unhappy - same people brought you Pearl Harbor, just think if your father was there and didn't come back you wouldn't be here to complain, sorry man but things happen in the real world, so roll with it mr. Perfect .

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 10:22 AM, vet212 wrote:

    I will say this it will look good in a city boy's driveway because aluminum aint gona make where pickups live the job site and the farm, Ford just turned the d-150 into a useless toy

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 10:37 AM, cumgussiler wrote:

    lol. ford and aluminum.,chevy and plastic,dodge and fiat,and Toyota and radiation.ever wonder what these companie all have in common???? take a wild curious

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 10:54 AM, southernshark wrote:

    Aluminum doesn't bother me, certainly not for body panels. I have several guns which use aluminum receiver parts and those guns seem to take a lot of abuse.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 11:32 AM, jimmychurch wrote:

    Aluminum is great if you use it to haul groceries and kids. Not worth a darn on a work site. The engine also will have problems. Have seen too many fail under stress and heat.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 11:38 AM, Grandpastu wrote:

    A friend at work wanted to show me his new, red, F-150 during our lunch hour. As he opened the door and stepped up on the chromed tubular optional running board, the running board fell off and onto the ground. The bolts were never tightened. Ford quality, built in! Ford, where quality is our least important product. The quality comes out before our name goes on! Etc, etc.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 12:00 PM, 0311Jarhead wrote:

    You all complain about aluminum, however i have spent many hours in many different aluminum bodied vehicle when i was in the service. Jobsite or not this body is going to be able to hold up to anything you put in front of it. Also johnny maybe you should not put your breaks through as much abuse and they might last longer than 30,000!

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 12:36 PM, hjhater wrote:

    I do not plan to purchase the new Ford. Due to many problems with my last Ford. However, I think they are headed in the right direction. So much that I have purchased stock in Ford. I sure hope it sells well, so my stock goes up.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 1:13 PM, militarygrade wrote:

    The aluminum that will be used in your truck will be the same aluminum used to help countless American Soldiers return to our country alive. Your meaningless problems with brakes and running boards are very shallow. As far as the tough job site guys, don't worry, this new metal Ford will use has saved lives and will definitely withstand anything you will throw at it. Unless, of course your work involves roadside bombs being exploded under it.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 1:47 PM, Dudero1 wrote:

    Can you spell U G L Y??? I will be glad when a truck LOOKS like a truck. Have you tried to push a tree down with a plastic bumper. I N E V E R tore a STEEL bumper off by going to the woods. You better NOT pull a REAL trailer with that fake rear bumper, either. Ford rear bumpers are why receiver hitches were invented.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 2:25 PM, patdfox wrote:

    I own a 2005 F-150 FX4. Love it so much, I just bought a 2014 LXT, and love it even more. If you don't love this truck, I don't know what is wrong with you. Best looking truck on the market! AND I am keepint the 2005, since it looks and runs like my new 2014

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 9:30 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    So much hype about making a pickup lighter. Most F150 are driven to and from work, so they are mostly used a commuter. I had a Ranger and it would get 25 mpg during my commute. I used it only a few times a year to haul anything. Getting better mpg is really important in the commuter market and I expect that it will sell in that market. The undercarriage is made of steel, its only the body panels that are made of aluminum, so it will do fine in its target market.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 1:21 AM, Saddleman wrote:

    I think Ford is taking a big risk. Trucks are put to such hard use. They take bangs and dings and a lot of hard use. We'll see how the use of lightweight aluminum plays out in the field.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 10:06 AM, vsawmike wrote:

    Not every many smart people making comments. The fact is the aluminum panels will be tougher than steel ones. The alloy used will be tougher to dings and dents.

    Understand that big rigs have used all aluminum cabs for decades with millions of miles on them. Get a clue and do a little research before you make a dumb comment.

    The whole cab will not be aluminum just some body panels.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 4:54 PM, JoeFord wrote:

    How many of you idiots know that military vehicles UNDER LIVE FIRE use aluminum extensivly? And those vehicles take abuse most pickups will never see. And yet they live long and prosper. Aircratf use aluminum. How many of your hillbilly bass boats are aluminum? And there are several aluminum Ford Galaxies and Fairlanes and Mercurys from the 60s that held up under cruel racing conditions to live to today. It won't take very long for the ney sayers to realize what a great move this realy was. This is why GM and Ram will never take the top spot. And the FORD F150 will always be the top truck!

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 8:43 PM, McSniperliger wrote:

    A lot of you people on here have little to know knowledge of what they are using on these new trucks. They are using a 5000 and 6000 series Aluminum. 5000 is Aluminum/Magnesium alloy for light weight and durability. 6000 is Aluminum/Magnesium/Silicon alloy, easy to machine. Its stronger than what is used on UPS trucks and the like. Durable and light weight.

    Ford has in place protocol in the case damage is done. Dealerships with auto body shops will have to pass every aspect of the procedures in order to work on these new trucks. Its possible (not 100% sure) that these panels are bolted rather than welded, which in turn will make repairs faster and you on the road much faster. Rather than repairing they would replace the damaged parts are replaced and then the damaged parts are fixed and resold as reman.

    Oh and to those concerned about Galvanizing corrosion that occurs with steel and aluminum are in contact, Ford has that covered literally, they have a coating that is sprayed on contact points to prevent this from happening.

    So Ford changing to another metal for one people assume is a lesser strength than steel is a smart move. They have been working on this since 2009. Ford did an experiment back then. They made a few trucks with Aluminum that were dressed up as 2009 model year trucks and leased them to several companies across America. The results were the trucks held up and did just as well as steel. It met with all expectations. Ford would not do this now if it did not meet or exceed expectations.

    The reason for such a radical change is if you people would read and look is that by 2025 all pickup trucks must get a minimum of 54.4mpg. So this is the start of their transition to meet the EPA goal by 2025. Its either now or never.

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John Rosevear

John Rosevear is the Fool's Senior Auto Specialist. John has been writing about the auto business and investing for over 20 years, and for The Motley Fool since 2007.

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