Top execs at General Motors had to have been hating themselves when Ford announced that the new F-150 would have exterior panels comprised largely of aluminum. After all, it was their idea first. At least that is what one would infer from a report in the Wall Street Journal.
As the story goes, GM was “exploring” the idea of an aluminum bodied pickup as far back as 2008. But as you may recall, things weren’t great in the automotive market in 2008 – in fact, the economy in general couldn’t have been much worse. The high risk of the proposal combined with the general state of the auto biz caused GM to scrap the idea.
Too bad for GM. Because since the announcement was made about the 2015 Ford F-150, the truck has been dominating the headlines. And remember, the Ford F-150 has already been the best-selling vehicle in America for many years running.
But don’t fear Chevy and GMC fans, the big G is now finalizing plans for some aluminum bodied trucks of its own…available by late 2018. So that only puts them approximately four years behind in the race for ultimate efficiency in the truck market. The aluminum panels on the new F-150 are expected to shed 700 pounds from the truck – a number that is sure to lead to great fuel economy figures. And the introduction of turbocharged V-6 engines on full-size trucks (like the F-150 will offer) will also add to the high efficiency numbers.
While the jury is still out on how the new F-150 will be perceived, I’m guessing even a slight drop in consumer loyalty would still allow Ford to retain the #1 sales slot. And there’s also a good chance this bold move will catapult the 2015 Ford F-150 even further up the sales and public opinion charts. The latter would be a huge hit for General Motors trucks.
Even more disturbing for GM is that all of this comes on the heels of the announcement that the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel amassed over 8,000 pre-orders in three days once its 28 mpg fuel efficiency was confirmed. Ram appears on the verge of forming its own niche by being first-to-market on a clean diesel, half-ton truck.
General Motors is always chasing Ford in truck sales. If the company would have gambled and pulled the trigger on aluminum bodied trucks in 2008, it could be way ahead of the game by now. Even if it didn’t work, at least it would have been an attempt. But that didn’t happen. And now GM is left scrambling to keep up with Ford’s aluminum body as the Ram brand also puts a clean diesel out there.
Could this be the start of declining sales for GM trucks? Weigh in below.