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NAIAS: New F-150 with aluminum will be tough and strong, says Ford

Credit Automotive Rhythms / Flickr
The 2014 Ford F 150

In a calculated risk meant to ensure Ford remains the leader in full-size pickups – and to meet upcoming truck fuel economy standards – the Dearborn automaker revealed a new F-150 that will shed about 700 pounds of its weight by switching much of the body to aluminum.

The company stresses that the frame of the truck will remain high-strength steel, but, "pound for pound, aluminum is stronger than steel," Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters after the event, which featured several F-150s bursting through a paper barrier designed to look like a concrete wall.

Mulally, who came from Boeing before taking the helm of Ford, says aluminum is widely used in airplanes (read, Boeing Dreamliner) and military vehicles, and he says Ford has a lot of its own experience in working with the material. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 32 years. Analysts say Ford's trucks are responsible for roughly a third of its profits.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.