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Ford has made quite a stir recently with their new aluminum frame F150 pick-up truck. And why not? It’s an innovative idea that has origins in sound logic. Aluminum is much lighter than steel. It’s actually about half the weight of an equivalent quantity of steel. So if an automobile is manufactured with an aluminum frame, instead of steel, you should see much greater fuel efficiency. While the benefits to an aluminum frame vehicle are quite obvious, many people wonder what are the possible drawbacks.
One company interested in the drawbacks to an aluminum frame vehicle is General Motors. In fact, they recently introduced several commercials that are airing on-line and other locations that delve into the downside of aluminum vs their traditional steel frame Chevrolet Silverado trucks. GM’s argument is that while steel weighs more, it is more durable, tugged and reliable.
Their new commercials featuring former NFL great, and current broadcaster Howie Long points to a study that was conducted showing that when a low speed crash occurs, the time frame and costs involved are exponentially greater on the Ford aluminum body truck. GM hired an independent firm to perform the tests. GM says that repairs took 34 days longer and cost $1700 more because of the complexity of servicing aluminum frame vehicles vs steel. Their argument is that because aluminum repairs require specialized tools and equipment, most auto body shops are not qualified to service aluminum body autos. This leaves you with only one option, the dealership. And then once you do get those repairs done, it is significantly more costly because of the expense of this specialized equipment, materials, along with the training required of the technician, as well as the complexity of these repairs. when you factor in that a typical contractor needs his truck fast, these extra 34 days could cost him much more than $1700 if he’s out of his valued truck for a month. They also mention that it could possibly increase the costs to insure these trucks, because of the higher repair costs.
This debate is sure to go on from here, as technicians from all over are weighing in on this matter. We also hear that GM is actually planning on coming out with an aluminum body truck as well, so if there are so many problems with it, why would they come out with one as well. Perhaps, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? As the government mandates more strict fuel efficiency standards every year, there may be no choice at some point. Yet another example of well intentioned government regulations costing tax payers more dollars.
Another more humorous video shows GM unleashing a Grizzly bear in a room with people, and they have to choose which cage they want to escape to, a steel frame cage, or an aluminum cage. Guess which cage they chose?
Check out one of the videos below –