January 28, 2015
Want to see a video of a dude smashing a pickup truck with a sledgehammer? Well, here you go!
The above demonstration isn’t merely a simple case of vandalism or a customer expressing frustration with his vehicle. Rather, the purpose of the video was to determine whether the aluminum-alloy body of the 2015 Ford F-150 would cost more to repair than a traditional, steel-bodied pickup.
The intrepid editors of Edmunds.com conducted their experiment on a 2015 F-150 4x4 SuperCrew using an 8-pound sledgehammer. Associate editor Travis Langness took two whacks to the truck: the first dented the right-quarter panel, cracking the taillight, and the second smashed the F-150’s bedside.
Next, Langness took the dented F-150 to a local Ford dealer for repairs. One of the primary limitations they contended with was that aluminum-capable repair shops are the only ones properly equipped to mend major collision repairs. Generally, aluminum-body vehicles are harder to repair than steel-body ones because they require special tools and additional manpower.
Langness was told that a steel-bodied F-150 with comparable damage “would take half the time” to repair. Ultimately, repairs to the F-150 were completed within a week and cost $3,000 for parts and labor. In essence, repairing the aluminum-body model cost about $600 more than it would have for a steel-body model.
With that said, the total cost figure the Edmunds editors were quoted is predicated on a few factors. For one, the damage to the F-150 was done by a sledgehammer and therefore doesn’t approximate the actual damage one might incur in a road accident. Also, Langness admits that he lied to the Ford service advisor about how the damage was incurred, which would impact how much a consumer would pay for F-150 repairs under real-world conditions.
According to Langness, “the switch to an aluminum body for its top-selling pickup was the biggest gamble Ford has made in decades.” Ford elected to overhaul the F-Series line for 2015 by using lightweight aluminum for the hood, body panels and cargo box, and high-strength steel for the vehicle’s frame.
For its part, Ford has touted the sizable advantages of the new aluminum design as justification for the change. A lighter aluminum pickup can achieve better fuel economy as well as take on the same payload as a traditional pickup, so long as the overall weight rating remains the same.
The Ford F-Series has led U.S. vehicle sales for over three decades, so Langness may well be right about the change to aluminum being a gamble. However, if the 2015 F-150 can achieve what Ford hopes it will, then its customers should be quite happy.
In the meantime, if you want more videos of people testing the durability of the aluminum-bodied F-150, then click the link and enjoy! And be sure to read the entertaining and informative long-term road test review on Edmunds.com to learn more about their F-150 experiment.
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