Ford, Alcoa team to add more lighter-weight aluminum in production of F-150 pickups

Ford and Alcoa are broadening their partnership through the use of a newer form of aluminum that's stronger and more easily shaped into auto body parts for the carmaker's popular F-150 series pick-up trucks.

The companies say aluminum alloys developed with Alcoa's Micromill technology will be used in 2016 F-150 production starting in the fourth quarter. They expect that use to then increase over the next several years.

Most of the pickup's body is already made of aluminum, a switch Ford decided to make a couple years ago. Aluminum, which is lighter than steel, can be used to improve a vehicle's fuel economy, which can help companies meet tougher standards from the government.

Use of aluminum in auto making has been growing for years, as car companies seek to produce lighter vehicles that get better mileage. New York-based Alcoa, in turn, has been shifting from mining and smelting aluminum to making products that can be shaped into parts for autos and airplanes.

Alcoa and Ford said the Micromill aluminum is easier to shape into forms like the inside panels of doors and external fenders. A Ford executive noted in a statement from the companies that the inner door is one of the most difficult parts in automotive stamping.

Terms of the Ford-Alcoa collaboration, which was announced Monday evening, were not disclosed.

Shares of both Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. and Alcoa Inc. slipped a penny Monday to close at $13.77 and $9.38, respectively.