Sometimes, selling a vehicle can be harder than making it.
The 2015 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck is the product of a complete redesign, meant to increase both utility and efficiency.
To that end, Ford has given the new F-150 an aluminum body, a decision that has proved controversial among at least some potential buyers.
F-150 chief engineer Pete Reyes described to The Detroit News how the company is educating consumers, some of whom think this aluminum truck just isn't tough enough.
Reyes said Ford's research indicates 80 percent of customers view an aluminum-bodied truck as "legitimate," but 20 percent still need to be convinced.
Of those 20 percent, about half will be "difficult to sway" Reyes said.
To win them over, Ford is providing more detailed information on the 2015 F-150's durability testing, which was more extensive than normal.The truck has reportedly undergone 10 million miles of test driving--2 million more than the previous F-150 did, and more than double the customary amount 20 years ago.
Riding on a traditional steel ladder frame, the aluminum body is expected to cut 700 pounds, which should lead to significant fuel-economy gains. Final specifications and fuel-economy ratings for the 2015 F-150 haven't been released yet.
Fuel efficiency will likely be a factor in many customers' pre-purchase calculations, but so will price.
Aluminum costs more than steel, and Ford won't announce F-150 pricing until much closer to the truck's on-sale date, sometime between October and December.
Dealers and service technicians will also need new education if they are to sell and maintain large amounts of aluminum-bodied vehicles.
Dan Risley--president of the Automotive Service Association--told The Detroit News that fewer than 20 percent of repair shops are properly equipped to work on aluminum-body structures.
Any new equipment or training needed could add to the cost of selling the 2015 F-150, and some shops said they were concerned about "early mishaps" with technicians who aren't used to working with aluminum.
Ford will certify body shops to fix the new F-150, though the certification is not mandatory.