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Discussion Starter #1
By now I think we all know about the big changes the F150 is undergoing for the 2015 Model Year. Ford is also on record that they plan to migrate most of their lineup to aluminium in the future to take advantage of not only fuel efficiency across the model lineup, but increased cost savings due to scale.

You could almost argue that fuel economy should be even more important to the Transit considering the dependence on fleet sales that's typical of this segment...

Could we see it in time for the next redesign?
 

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Perhaps, but a big difference is that F-150 is body-on-frame construction. In the truck, the frame which carries a lot of the loads, is steel. That's not to say all-aluminum construction can't be made to work on a unitized vehicle designed for heavy loads. After all, a Boeing 747 is mostly aluminum and weighs something like 800,000 pounds.

I think that ultimately it comes down to overall costs. If the F-150 is a great success, or if it takes Ford another 20+ years to redesign their large van, there is a good chance aluminum could play a major role.
 

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lowering weight is always good

better mileage. better acceleration.

especially if the NV is heavy. I'm not sure if that will mean the Transit will be very heavy.
 

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So far Ford has actually started using aluminum and GM has announced that they will start using aluminum, but both are only using it for their trucks. Do you think that aluminum frames will be rolled out to all types of vehicles instead of just trucks? It seems like that is where the trend is heading.
 

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So far Ford has actually started using aluminum and GM has announced that they will start using aluminum, but both are only using it for their trucks. Do you think that aluminum frames will be rolled out to all types of vehicles instead of just trucks? It seems like that is where the trend is heading.
I personally have a hard time visualizing a "frame" made of aluminum for a body-on-frame vehicle. However, most vehicles have already been redesigned to unitized construction where there is no real stand-alone frame at all. The body is reinforced as needed to accept suspension and drivetrain components. And for unitized there is no doubt it is possible since it's already done. It just adds cost.

Another option could be a hybrid system with steel sub-frames front and rear attached to mostly aluminum structure. Or sub-frames could be made of aluminum also.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I personally have a hard time visualizing a "frame" made of aluminum for a body-on-frame vehicle. However, most vehicles have already been redesigned to unitized construction where there is no real stand-alone frame at all. The body is reinforced as needed to accept suspension and drivetrain components. And for unitized there is no doubt it is possible since it's already done. It just adds cost.

Another option could be a hybrid system with steel sub-frames front and rear attached to mostly aluminum structure. Or sub-frames could be made of aluminum also.
very valid points. I could see the load bearing areas continuing with steel construction while anything superfluous makes a swap to something more lightweight. But you're right about additional cost.

Its going to be a tough sell to justify the extra costs that will inevitably be passed down to consumers if the improvements are merely marginal to the end user..
 

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......cut........

Its going to be a tough sell to justify the extra costs that will inevitably be passed down to consumers if the improvements are merely marginal to the end user..
Isn't that the same for any fuel-improvement technology? If savings aren't enough to justify additional cost then there has to be additional benefits.

As an example, hybrids are often difficult to justify on fuel cost savings alone, so they have limited appeal to many buyers. The same might apply to extensive use of aluminum if done to improve MPG -- depends on incremental costs and associated payback.

As far as I know, extensive use of aluminum has mostly been used to provide additional performance due to the lower weight -- was first popular in mass with expensive sports cars. And it's filtered down to expensive sedans. Regardless, the use of aluminum has been increasing for decades. Aluminum wheels, aluminum engine heads, then aluminum blocks, hoods, door skins, and so on.

It seems to me that Ford is taking a huge risk with the F-150. If weight savings doesn't improve MPGs enough to pay for added cost, then the truck better do something else a lot better. Less body weight should also increase payload, towing capacity, etc., but will that offset higher costs? Ford is apparently betting yes.
 

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I'm not sure if the chassis will ever be aluminum. they just aren't strong enough. maybe one day when carbon fiber is cheap enough to manufacturer it will become standard on trucks in this price range

but until then sticking with steel is the best. though everything else could switch to aluminum to save weight.
 

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One thing I find interesting in light of the F-150's switch to aluminum for the body is that the new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost has a compacted graphite iron block. I personally see that as a potentially good choice since CGI is used on heavy duty engines because of its greater strength.

Since the 3.5L EcoBoost uses an aluminum block, it also makes me wonder what Ford was trying to accomplish, or perhaps remedy. Are they looking for even more specific power or are there durability issues under severe use? I don't know the reason for the switch to GCI but like it versus aluminum.
 

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Other companies are moving more towards carbon fiber instead of aluminum or as well as aluminum. Look at the Alfa Romeo 4C which has a carbon fiber frame, or the BMW i3 that uses plentiful carbon fiber. We could see both of these materials being used, or companies opting to focus more on one or the other. I think that the matter of scale is a big one. Once the material starts getting used on a larger scale we should see costs go down which would make the fuel savings and performance gains more worth the price jump.
 

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I don't see CF being used in cargo vans, more likely to be in passenger vehicles for now. It's going to be a while but it will happen
 

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Carbon fiber will be limited to vehicles' where lower weight is important to performance. But it can't be justified on fuel-cost-savings basis at present costs. CF will have to become much cheaper or fuel much more expensive.

And like aluminum, when we see more CF it will probably start as replacement for individual parts instead of entire structure.
 

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id say in another 5-10 years we will see carbon fiber trickle down from the super cars and expensive cars to more pro sumer level cars
 

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i think one really good way to use CF in a cargo van like this is making all doors CF. Easy way to cut weight.
 

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The Obama Administration is pushing stricter fuel efficiency standards so companies are having to move to different materials in order to keep up. The move to aluminum, and maybe later carbon fiber, is definitely partly to make sure that fuel economy numbers can get to the point they need to be when new regulations kick in down the road.
 

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Yup, anything for better fuel economy is a win and keeps this vehicles in the spotlight for a while.
There's a good chance we can see a combo of light materials like CF and even EV components making their way into cargo vans for electric range
 

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If incremental fuel economy comes at an incremental cost that far exceeds the cost of the fuel saved then most buyers won't invest in that option.

There is available technology to make vehicles more fuel efficient, but to be successful in the market place the added cost has to be justified.
 

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Because something can be done it doesn't mean it should be done.

For example, a carbon fiber airplane like the new Boeing Dreamliner can now be manufactured at a profit because it provides fuel efficiency and or range that justifies the incremental cost over traditional aluminum airplanes. By comparison to road vehicles planes fly millions of miles and it takes lots of fuel to keep the weight in the air.

On the other hand if a mostly carbon fiber cargo van was built today, the added cost could not be justified by the fuel savings due to the lower weight. Vans don't get driven enough miles, don't generally last as long as planes, and the road supports the weight. Very few people would pay over $100,000 for a CF van in order to save $1,000 in fuel annually.

Mazda's approach to weight savings makes a lot of sense to me. Keeps it simple and reduce size when possible. This not only saves fuel but can reduce vehicle cost at same time. And in a way the ProMaster follows the same logic. By going FWD it saves weight and lowers height for improved aerodynamics. And it doesn't add cost at all.
 

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lets wait till they do aluminum first

dont get ahead of ourselves.. a carbon fiber truck would cost an insane amount of dollars
 
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