Though automotive experts believe that the 2015 Ford F-150 could be a real game changer in the pickup truck market, dealers had been skeptical that the new truck would catch on with consumers. Keep in mind that the “Built Ford Tough” slogan is based on durable steel-based trucks and not lightweight vehicles that use aluminum as a key build material. But as it turns out, it looks like many buyers are ready to make the transition when it comes to how they see Ford’s flagship truck and part of the best-selling line of vehicles in America.
“We thought there might be some pushback because of the aluminum (build),” said Colorado-based Ford dealership owner Jeff Carlson. However, that didn’t turn out to be the case. “Some of the more knowledgeable customers out there (are) saying ‘I’m actually going to wait for that truck because they like the idea of aluminum,” he added in his interview with AutoNews.com. Similarly, Woodhaven, Mich. Ford dealer Ed Joliffe of Gorno Ford said that he was concerned that his customers “wouldn’t think (the 2015 Ford F-150) was heavy-duty enough,” though he believes Ford has sufficiently addressed that concern.
On Ford’s end, as well as those of the dealers, the idea of pickup buyers being unwilling to accept change isn’t an issue anymore in this day and age. “At the customer level, you’ve got to remember these customers fish with titanium reels; they hunt with carbon fiber rifles. They hold their tools in the back with an aluminum tool holder,” noted Ford executive Jim Farley. “These customers are surrounded by new materials at every level.” He was seconded by consulting firm Strategic Vision president Alexander Edwards, who told AutoNews.com that Ford’s presence as a leader in the pickup truck space means customers are confident the company knows what it’s doing with the new F-150. “If there are any problems, then (Ford is) going to have a significant problem getting people in the second and third waves of truck buyers,” he said, suggesting that the first wave of buyers won’t have a problem accepting the aluminum-based 2015 Ford F-150 for what it is.
The new F-150 will start production at Ford’s Dearborn facility late in 2014, and will continue at the manufacturer’s Kansas City, Mo. facility in the first half of 2015, allowing aluminum and steel iterations of the F-150 to appear together in dealerships. But would both versions sell plenty for these dealerships? According to Jerry Mullinax, another Ford dealer interviewed by AutoNews, that might be the case, similar to how the 2003 F-150 and the 2004 version sold very well, with discount buyers going for the former truck and early adopters going with the redesigned 2004 F-150. However, he said that his staff at his Apopka, Fla. dealership would have to work on selling the advantages of the aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 when the truck becomes available.