DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford will begin production of its aluminum body F-150 pickup today at the Ford Rouge Center just outside of Detroit.
The new pickup truck, which was unveiled during the 2014 North American International Auto Show in January, will be available at dealerships in the U.S. next month.
The introduction of the 2015 F-150 -- a pickup with a high-strength steel frame and an aluminum-alloy body – is an aggressive move by Ford in the automotive lightweighting battle. The new truck weighs 700 pounds less, yet can tow 1,100 more pounds, haul 530 more pounds and is projected to have a 5% to 20% higher fuel economy.
“The all-new F-150 is a showcase of innovation and class-leading capability for truck customers,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, who in July replaced the retiring Ford head Alan Mulally. “It underscores the product excellence and innovation we are delivering in every part of our business as we accelerate our pace of progress toward profitable growth.”
To produce the 2015 F-150, Ford hired an additional 850 workers at its Dearborn Truck, Diversified and Stamping facilities, one of two sites where the pickup will be manufactured.
Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., will begin production in the first quarter of 2015. The two plants will be able to produce 700,000 trucks per year.
“The all new Ford F-150 is the true definition of America-made and speaks to the commitment of the hardworking men and women of the UAW,” said Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president and director, National Ford Department.
“From the very beginning, our production workers in stamping and assembly, as well as our skilled trades, have been an integral part of this historic transformation."
To support the new F-150, Ford redesigned its Dearborn Diversified, Stamping and Tool & Die facilities, installing 500 robots to a new body ship; adding new press lines to stamp four types of aluminum alloys; new hydroforming lines to form metal tubes into support rails; a new chemical coating system to ready the aluminum for high-strength adhesives; and a new heat treat area to harden the alloys.