Ford uses a military grade, 6000 series aluminum alloy, which is significantly lighter than the steel alloys previously employed. Aluminum also has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, though its yield strength is ultimately lower than steel. In addition, it has a much higher rate of thermal expansion, presenting particular hardships to the design and development process. There has been much skepticism surrounding the transition to an aluminum body, including increased insurance/repair costs and concerns over the use of steel fasteners to mate body panels, which may pose a threat of corrosion. Of course, Ford has addressed these concerns and based on their level of confidence in the new F-150 platform, we can only assume that they have designed around all these obstacles.
An aluminum bodied Super Duty, if Ford’s execution proves successful, could open the door for higher payload and tow ratings in addition to obvious improvements in fuel economy. Ford has a lot riding on the 2015 F-150’s bold design – if their transition to aluminum proves successful, they should have no difficulty selling customers on an aluminum bodied Super Duty. If the new F-150 is a bust, Ford faces increased skepticism over the next generation Super Duty. Other automakers are taking note; General Motors has already released a statement committing to switch to aluminum for their GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups upon the next major redesign, which is scheduled for 2018.
The 2015 State Fair of Texas presented Ford's long awaited debut of the redesigned 2017 model year Super Duty pickup. A completely aluminum body structure and fully boxed, high strength steel frame are amongst the improvements for the new Super Duty. The unveiling was short on details regarding the 6.7L Power Stroke engine, but Ford has promised we'll see the most powerful version yet. And while the 2017 MY pickups won't go on sale until late in 2016, here's a glance at what we have to look forward to.
Military Grade Aluminum Body – The completely redesigned, next generation 2017 model year Ford Super Duty platform utilizes a complete military grade aluminum body structure. Obvious styling cues, including the headlights and smooth cabin curvature, have been inspired by the smaller F-150, which went all aluminum with Ford’s 2015 model year redesign. In the end, the use of aluminum saves the Super Duty up to 350 lbs. (weight savings vary by configuration) and, according to Ford, has been engineered to provide superior dent and ding resistance over the current steel bodied Super Duty.
Fully Boxed Frame – The transition to an aluminum body granted Ford engineers the ability to significantly strengthen the Super Duty’s frame without facing concerns over weight. Lighten the body, beef up the frame for better handling and capability. The result? A fully boxed frame manufactured from 95% high strength steel; that’s six times the amount of high strength steel used in the current Super Duty’s frame. Additionally, the frame will feature up to 10 cross members (again, depending on configuration) for maximum strength and rigidity. While payload and tow figures have yet to be released for the new Super Duty platform, Ford claims that we’ll see higher 5th wheel and gooseneck tow capacities than ever before.
More Potent Powertrain – Ford has yet to reveal horsepower and torque figures for the next gen 6.7L Power Stroke, but we’ve been promised that both figures will be the highest we’ve seen in a Super Duty. The 6 speed automatic TorqShift transmission returns as the only option behind the Power Stroke diesel. The Power Stroke will compete directly with Ram’s Cummins equipped, 900 lb-ft I-6 and (likely) an enhanced version of GM’s 6.6L Duramax V-8, details of which are expected in the near future.
Enhanced Visibility – Ford is removing much of the danger for Super Duty owners who tow frequently by offering 360 degree visibility. The 2017 Super Duty is available with up to 7 cameras, providing drivers with a 360 degree view of the road from a centrally located, dash mounted screen. The system includes a 180 degree grille camera, two mirror mounted side view cameras focused down the side of the truck, a forward facing camera feeding the lane departure warning system, a cargo box camera (perfect for one person 5th wheel/gooseneck hookups), a tailgate camera, and a driver placed wireless trailer camera. Lighting will not be an issue with standard LED box light, side view lights, headlamps, and tail lights.
Segment First Technology – The 2017 Super Duty platform includes many segment-first goodies and gadgets, which include a remote locking tailgate, trailer tire pressure monitoring system, adaptive steering technology, and trailer reverse guidance system in addition to the class exclusive all aluminum body.
Source: Ford Motor Company, ford.com