Production of the next generation of North America’s best-selling vehicle might be delayed by almost three months.
The aluminum supplied by Alcoa and other tier 2 suppliers didn’t meet internal requirements for the “tooling tryout” phase of Ford’s pre-production process, according to a report by TTAC. That will be enough to hamper production of the next generation F-150 trucks by up to 10 weeks, blowing the brands targeted Memorial Day sales kickoff.
Ford is using aluminum body panels extensively in its new trucks – previewed in Detroit last year by the Atlas concept – and if the material’s ability to return to its original shape after being hit with a dye isn’t dead on, manufacturing can be completely derailed. While heavier, steel also isn’t as susceptible to the issue.
Because of the sub-par materials, Ford will reportedly be forced to compress its validation process in order to stem further delays. Ford’s trucks are pivotal to its success. Roughly 70 percent of Ford’s global profits come from North American sales. The company’s F-Series pickup trucks accounted for over a third of its North American sales through November.
Normally, Ford would go through two phases of pre-production vehicles before building models bound for showrooms. Those models are considered to be salable and will be pushed to dealers to minimize further delays, increasing the risk for bugs in early units and problems with Ford’s bread-and-butter product.
Update: an Alcoa representative contacted AutoGuide after this story was published to say that there aren’t issues with its aluminum panels.
GALLERY: Ford Atlas Concept
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