General Motors has released new advertisements for its Chevrolet Silverado truck line highlighting the difference between the “roll-formed, high-strength steel” bed of the Silverado and Ford Motor Company‘s F-150’s “military-grade aluminum” bed. This is a debate we’ve regularly chronicled here at MetalMiner.
In one of the ads, two tests are performed on the competitor trucks’ payload beds without bedliners. First, a load of concrete cinder blocks is dumped from the hydraulic buckets of two waiting backhoes, a scenario that could conceivably be required of a truck used to pick up supplies for a construction site. While the Silverado suffers some dents and scratches, its bed is never punctured. The F-150, though? Several punctures, cracks and even a split are recorded in the video.
Okay, so what? Some Ford partisans might say.
Can Damage Be Expected?
Most construction trucks utilize bedliners for hauling blocks for landscaping and other such uses, and that damage can be expected, especially if they’re dropped from height using the bucket of a backhoe. True story: Even with a bedliner, my father’s Ford truck was not safe in 1992 after I threw a perfect spiral with a piece of firewood that bounced off the bedliner and went straight through the back windows of the cab when I was 16.
Even with a “cold-formed steel” bed and a liner, the windows are never truly safe while gathering firewood. That shot was one-in-million. Who needs cinder blocks when you’ve got firewood?
Back to the aluminum vs. steel truck debate, in a second test, GM’s focus group of “real truck owners” — who are very likely actors, GM won’t say, nor will ad agency McCann Worldwide— drops an empty steel toolbox about two-and-a-half feet where it is balanced on the side of both the Silverado and the F-150 trucks onto the waiting bed. The Chevy takes a small dent from the toolbox but the F-150 receives another puncture wound, potentially ruining any future attempt its owner might make to line the bed with plastic and make a swimming pool on wheels.
Toolbox vs. Truck Bed
The implication is that while you might not haul concrete blocks daily, accidentally dropping your toolbox onto your truck bed is at least a bi-weekly occurrence and your bed ought to be able to take the corner of a steel toolbox without getting punctured. That’s a bit more damning of a statement than your truck’s bed can’t take several hundred lbs. of concrete blocks being dumped on it.
In a second ad, GM enlists famed tough guy Howie Long and one of its safety engineers to drop steel wedges and other heavy things on the trucks’ beds while also rubbing in the block and toolbox tests.
We have been skeptical of the performance of aluminum in crashes and other scenarios but if GM’s ads are true, then basic use can seriously damage the aluminum F-150’s bad. If similar tests can be replicated by organizations and federal agencies such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in actual crash tests, then Ford might have to seriously reconsider the durability of the aluminum parts of the F-150.