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LIGHTWEIGHTING poses repair challenges

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 15AUTP02_03
Published February 01, 2015 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Mass-produced aluminum bodies and mixed-material structures present challenges for assembly and repair, as automakers increasingly pursue these lightweight strategies.

Aluminum panels for automotive application are nothing new. They've been used for hoods and decklids for many years, particularly when an automaker needed to shave a few pounds to fit a vehicle into a particular emissions class. And a number of luxury cars have had some models with bodies almost entirely of aluminum, such as Jaguar, Range Rover, Aston Martin, Audi, Porsche, and now Tesla. But Ford's 2015 F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., with its all-aluminum body, is raising the issue of body repair to a level that can challenge America's mainstream auto body repair shops.

The F-150 retains a steel frame to go with its aluminum panels, but the amount of aluminum and the associated technology that enabled it will require new tools and techniques for the body shop. Wait, what about the aluminum body luxury cars? How have they been repaired?