The aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck seems like a big gamble for the company.
The redesigned version of Ford's best-selling model promises to be more fuel-efficient, but many analysts have asked about aluminum's cost, durability, and ease of repair.
Yet a new study claims that buyers are, if nothing else, intrigued.
The study from research firm UBS found that buyers don't care what material their trucks are made of if performance is comparable--but became more interested in aluminum the more they learned about it, according to The Detroit News.
2015 Ford F-150
Researchers found that 36 percent of buyers surveyed didn't care what material their truck was made of, as long as it offered the same capability. About 19 percent preferred steel, 17 percent preferred a mix of steel and aluminum, 3 percent preferred aluminum, and 25 percent said they needed more information.
But the results changed significantly once participants received more information on the2015 F-150's features.
Forty-three percent of participants said the use of aluminum makes it more likely to buy a truck, while 52 percent of pickup owners who intend to buy a new vehicle in the next six months said they're extremely likely to consider the 2015 F-150.
Riding on a traditional steel frame, the F-150's aluminum body is expected to cut up to 700 pounds, which should lead to significant fuel-economy gains. Final specifications and fuel-economy ratings haven't been released, though.
Neither has pricing, although aluminum costs more than steel. UBS estimates this will add about $600 to the cost of each truck.
Nonetheless, the research firm believes the new F-150 will be quite profitable, claiming pickup buyers are willing to pay an average premium of $3,138 per truck.
That leaves plenty of room for the extra cost of aluminum, although whether buyers will be spooked by potentially higher repair costs remains to be seen. Once the new trucks leave showrooms, body shops will have to retrain and re-equip to work on them.