With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 30 miles per gallon for light trucks looming ever closer, Ford is looking at ways to meet these targets without sacrificing performance on its bread winning F-series pickups.
One method, hinted by CEO Alan Mullaly is in shaving weight. The current F-150 uses a fully-boxed steel frame, which is strong, but heavy, so for the next generation truck an option being considered is a chassis made from magnesium alloy.
There’s a good deal of logic to this. Magnesium is currently one of the most abundant elements on earth and is 36 percent lighter than aluminum. It’s also being increasingly adopted by automakers, primarily on suspension components and engine blocks, but also body panels. In fact Ford managed to shave some 22 lbs off the Lincoln MKT crossover utility vehicle by using separate aluminum and magnesium panels for the rear lift gate instead of ordinary stamped steel.
Along with the frame, Ford is also exploring the possibilities of using aluminum body panels on the next F-150, though for strength and durability a steel skin will likely remain. As for powertrain options, there’s no official word on what might be offered down the road, though expect a next generation EcoBoost V6 and possibly an inline-five cylinder engine, maybe a turbo diesel.