Many conversations about the 2015 Ford F-150 have surrounded the potentially high cost of repairing its largely-aluminum body. To the anxiety of dealers and consumers, Ford announced it will pay 20% of what shops will spend on training and gear to fix the new pickup, up to $10,000.
With an investment like that on top of everything that's already gone into R&D and marketing for the new truck, Ford has made it quite clear that they see aluminum as a long-term stage in the evolution of their vehicles.
Ford made a big push to educate its dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association's convention in New Orleans. Dealers were told all stores with their own body shops, 20% of all Ford dealers, must become aluminum-certified, as well as "80% of independent shops expected to work on the truck" though it remains to be seen which indies the Blue Oval plans to work with.
The design of the truck is highly modular, making for easier repairs and less labor hours. F-150 marketing manager Eric Peterson told the Detroit Free Press that "the new aluminum structure will represent 20% of total repairs."
Freep learned that "the cost of training, tooling and certification is expected to be in the $30,000 to $50,000 range per dealership for those starting from scratch" from Ford's Vice President of US Marking, Sales and Service John Felice.
That certification includes an online course and two full days in a classroom, with supplementary study through a partnership with collision-training outfit I-CAR.
Felice apparently has no worries about the preparedness of Ford dealers or and the affiliated independent shops being ready to repair the 2015 Ford F-150 by the time the first customers take delivery.
Consumer concerns and their associated costs, like these subsidies, are just part of the early adopter's fee I'm sure Ford anticipated when they committed to new technology in a significant aspect of their best selling vehicle. We know people are going to buy F-150s, but I'm curious to see if many buyers "hold out" for the first few crash and body shop experiences to hit the forums.