By Bradford Wernle, Crain News Service
DEARBORN, Mich. (Nov. 12, 2014) — After years of preparation, the first production version of the aluminum-body 2015 Ford F-150 pickup rolled off the line Nov. 11 at Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn truck plant.
Ford aims to stake out its engineering leadership with the 2015 F-150, the industry's first mass market, aluminum-body truck.
“The all-new F-150 continues to advance my great-grandfather's vision of building vehicles we can be proud of and our customers can depend on,” said Bill Ford, the auto maker's executive chairman.
The industry has been watching as Ford has transformed its assembly and stamping plants in Dearborn in preparation to build the new truck, which requires different metal joining techniques from traditional steel bodies.
Skeptics have predicted the ramp-up could be slow as Ford breaks in its manufacturing process, building about 60 trucks an hour at full line speed. Ford has repeatedly said that the launch is on schedule and that F-150s will arrive in dealerships in December.
In a press release, Ford said the new F-150 “stands for the future of trucks, and brings the latest in smart technologies and state-of-the-art build processes.”
Ford shut down its Dearborn manufacturing operation for nearly two months to install 500 robots in the body shop to “conduct state-of-the-art joining technology that leads to a tougher truck,” Ford said in the release.
The company's Dearborn stamping plant added new press lines to stamp four types of high-strength aluminum alloys that reduce the weight of the cab and cargo box and improve durability, Ford claims.