There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the new aluminum F-150 from Ford set to debut later this year. For the most part, that hype has been completely justified. After all, the new truck design has managed to shave off an astonishing 700 pounds, which according to many has already changed the floundering pickup fuel efficiency game.
“This is a critical redesign, not just for Ford but for the entire full-size truck market as we enter an era of rapidly-increasing fuel efficiency standards,” says senior analyst Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book.
But what if I were to tell you that all of this aluminum excitement was a little premature?
Well, according to a new study the steel giant ArcelorMittal, there is a way to slash weight and increase fuel efficiency while using a newly developed, high strength steel option.
“It is possible to design all types of lightweight vehicles and to get them to the 2025 targets, and you can do it with steel,” said Blake Zuidema, ArcelorMittal’s director of automotive product applications.
Partnered with North American steel supplier Nippon Steel, ArcelorMittal showcased this theory in a design study in which they equipped the underbody of a truck from the 2009 model year with a variety-strength the steel grades. The result: designers were able to slash the original underbody weight, 1,649 pounds, to an airy 1,265 pounds. That’s a reduction of 383 pounds, or 23 percent.
That may fall short of Ford’s 700 pounds, but remember: this study only dealt with the underbody of the truck. Much of Ford’s other weight reductions came from interior design changes, so this new steel can easily compete.
“Most of the vehicles that we’re driving today are made of steel, and we’re optimistic and bullish that that will continue to be the case,” said Lou Schorsch, chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, in an Alabama press conference Tuesday.
In the end, this study is a definite game changer for a truck industry that was about to go all in on the transition to aluminum.