Ford reverts to steel for deck lids on 2 cars.
Author/s: Al Wrigley
Issue: Jan 5, 1999
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has buttoned up plans to convert the deck lids on its Taurus and Sable cars to steel from aluminum when the next generation of those family autos is introduced early in 2000.
The new deck lids are expected to consume at least 14 million pounds of steel annually, eliminating an application for aluminum sheet that required an estimated 9 million pounds or more per year.
The popular Taurus and Sable cars have been equipped with aluminum deck lids since fall 1995, and the lids will have consumed more than 40 million pounds of-flat-rolled aluminum before the conversion to steel takes place a little more than a year from now.
Ford sources at the 1999 North American International Auto Show here said the redesigned cars will not need aluminum deck lids for weight-saving purposes and steel was selected for those components primarily because of the material cost-savings.
The sources noted that Ford converted both the hoods and deck lids on its standard-size Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis cars to steel from aluminum in fall 1997 for the same economic reasons.
The redesigned Taurus and Sable cars will not sport any significant additional applications for aluminum to compensate for the deck lid conversion to steel, the Ford sources said. In fact, the aluminum content in the new models is expected to be 30 to 40 pounds less than the aluminum content in the models they replace.
The beneficiary of the new Taurus/Sable deck lid application for steel is expected to be LTV Steel Corp., Cleveland, which reportedly will furnish electrogalvanized steel with free-zinc coatings on both sides to Ford's parts-stamping operations. The steel is expected to come from either of two LTV mills in Cleveland or Columbus, Ohio.
For the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis hood and deck lid conversions, the beneficiaries were the U.S. Steel Group, Pittsburgh, and Bethlehem Steel Corp., Bethlehem, Pa. (AMM, Dec. 2, 1996)
Ford, which has put its materials choices under greater cost scrutiny in the past couple of years than many of its competitors have done, is in the process of converting a number of die-cast magnesium components--including seat risers, stanchions and four-wheel-drive transfer cases--to aluminum castings to take advantage of aluminum's lower cost.
Although aluminum casting alloys are less expensive than magnesium casting alloys, aluminum stamping materials cost more than steel stamping materials, which explains why the Dearborn, Mich.,-based automaker holds aluminum in disfavor for some component applications but favors it in others.
Ford still intends to employ aluminum sheet alloys extensively in the fenders, hoods and deck lids of its new luxury Lincoln LS sports sedans.
However, in luxury cars the cost of more-expensive production materials can be hidden more easily than in less-pricey cars.
The decision to convert the Taurus/Sable deck lids to steel runs contrary to the general upward trend in the auto industry's use of aluminum (AMM, Nov. 10 and 18). On the other hand, it is consistent with the cost-reduction program implemented by Ford more than three years ago aimed at achieving overall reductions of up to 5 percent annually.
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