Next Ford F-150: Advanced Materials Likely, Hybrid Powertrain Possible Page 2

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The Ford executive is referring to the memorandum of understanding that the company entered with Toyota Motor Co. in August 2011—applying to the development of hybrid systems for “rear-wheel drive light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.”

Such a system might measure up to the GM Two-Mode Hybrid system, which hasn't done well in the market and will be dropped from GM's re-engineered pickups, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

More lightweight materials, not all-aluminum

While it might be some time before we see electrification in an F-150, we’ll almost certainly get next-generation EcoBoost engines, along with more advanced lightweight materials. But the claims last year from some sources, that Ford had locked onto plans to make the next-generation F-150 with an all-aluminum structure, might have been a bit premature.

“It’s too early to talk about any specific materials choices in the next generation,” said Nair, adding that they’re always looking ways to work more weight-saving materials like high-strength steel, boron steel, aluminum, or even magnesium into their vehicles—as well as carbon fiber, under an agreement with Dow. And on any material usage, there’s a lot of focus on raw materials, and whether they’ll make financial sense for the entire product cycle.

“Leveraging all of those in every program is key, as well as in the details of the engineering, making sure we’re really optimizing structures, using a lot of our new techniques, and almost working back from what would be the ideal structure, from a weight and load basis,” explained Nair. “And then working to get the production and manufacturing feasibility out of it.”

And if Ford does manage to find a place for a hybrid system in a few years, as well as a structure utilizing advanced materials, big pickups—the way Americans want them—could make a great leap in efficiency.


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