July 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Study: Ford's new aluminum F-150 piques truck drivers' interest

The UBS survey sampled 800 truck owners. (Ford Motor Co.)

A new study says most pickup owners don’t care whether their truck is made of aluminum or steel, but there is great interest in Ford Motor Co.’s new aluminum F-150.

An independent study by global research firm UBS found that 36 percent of those surveyed don’t care what material their truck is made out of if performance is comparable. About 19 percent preferred steel, 17 percent preferred a mix of steel and aluminum, 3 percent preferred aluminum and 25 percent needed more information.

But once potential customers learn about the new F-150’s features, 43 percent say the use of aluminum makes it more likely they’ll buy the truck; 52 percent of pickup owners who intend to buy a new truck in the next 12 months said they’re extremely likely to consider the new aluminum-body F-150.

“There were steel loyalists, but once you gave them details, the preference for aluminum switches,” said Colin Langan, an UBS analyst. “Educated consumers tend to see this as an asset.”

He said he thinks the new truck can be more profitable for Ford than the past iterations of the popular pickup.

“There clearly seems a situation where Ford will be capacity constrained on the truck given the demand,” he said. “Clearly, there’s a lot of excitement.”

UBS conducted the survey by sampling 800 truck owners between May 30 and June 10.

The survey also found customers who plan on buying a truck in the next year are willing to pay an average premium of $3,138. UBS estimates the use of aluminum will add about $600 per truck, so it believes Ford has “ample room to boost profitability” and should ease worries about the cost of using aluminum.

Ford, which did not commission the study, was pleased with the results.

“We know that customers want productivity,” said Brandt Coultas, Ford’s F-150 marketing manager. “We ended up making major portions out of aluminum because it allows us to deliver those customer needs. The new F-150 will allow them to haul more and tow more and they’ll be able to do it more efficiently.”

Coultas said the aluminum-bodied truck will weight about 700 pounds less than the current F-150.

“It’s a huge launch for our company and everybody’s excited to start building that truck,” he said.

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