The divide between Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) is one of the great cultural rifts in America, up there with Yankees-Red Sox, Coke-Pepsi, and AT&T-Verizon. Much of the time, it’s a friendly sparring between brand preferences, but the country is often sworn to one or the other.
For Ford and Chevrolet, it’s generally about trucks. The Silverado and the F-150 are perennially at odds, and that competition has only grown more heated in recent years. When one brand makes a breakthrough, it can be largely assumed that the other will follow suit. That is seemingly happening with Ford’s recent decision to swap out the swaths of steel on its F-150 with aluminum. While Ford’s leading pickup will the hit market later this year, General Motors hopes to apply the same approach by 2018.
The news was broken after GM reportedly recently secured supply contracts with Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and Novelis Inc., as both aluminum suppliers are now making efforts to increase aluminum sheet production to supply the next-generation of GM’s Silverado pickup, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It’s expected that Ford’s F-150 will benefit in numerous ways from the application of aluminum. The new truck will shed significant amounts of weight, offer better performance and handling, and feature a modular design that will help save thousands on repairs and cut repair times. That’s an appealing set of propositions, so it’s not surprisng that Chevy wants to hop on that bandwagon.
But why wait until 2018? At that point, Ford’s new F-150 will have four solid years under its belt, giving it a competitive edge. As it turns out, General Motors may not have a choice; aluminum is so sought after by auto manufacturers and in such volume that companies are forced to place their orders years ahead of time.
In addition to remaining competitive with Ford, General Motors is also contending with the increasingly strict emissions and fuel economy regulations. A lighter truck would help improve mileage and efficiency,without detriment to its towing capacity or power output. The delay will also allow GM to see how Ford’s truck does and make the needed changes for when it launches its own model.