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Auto blogMon, 04 Aug 2014 10:45:00 EST
The most important bit of information you need to know after looking through our high-res gallery of images depicting a prototype 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck burning to the ground is that nobody was hurt. There were two engineers inside the vehicle when it caught fire, and both exited to safety.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the truck, which appears to have been testing in Death Valley, appears to be a total loss, minus, of course, whatever information Ford can glean from the conflagration - particularly tracing it back to its root cause. Besides that, we're also expecting the body of the next Super Duty to be hewn from aluminum, as is the case with its smaller brother, the brand-new F-150. Note the little aluminum droppings littering the roadway as apparent proof of that.
Our spy photographers report that it took just 21 minutes for the F-Series Super Duty to burn completely to the ground. The fire appears to have started in the driver-side front wheel well, spreading to engulf the entire front end in three minutes. We can't confirm the source of the blaze, but we're curious if the car's black vinyl cladding, meant to obscure the secrets within, contributed to the fire.
Ford is recalling certain 2012 Taurus, 2013 Explorer and 2012 Lincoln MKS models over fuel tank concerns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicles built between July 19, 2011 and March 15, 2012 may have been built with fuel tanks that have a "marginally sealed seam" on the side. Those seams may not provide the strength necessary to protect the tank from rupture during a collision. They may also leak. The recall covers a total of 3,037 vehicles. NHTSA says that leaked fuel, in the presence of an ignition source, could easily cause a fire.
Dealers will inspect the tanks and replace them as need be free of charge. Owners can expect to be notified once the campaign begins on or around April 22, 2013. You can read the full NHTSA recall notice below for more information.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the 2015 Ford F-150 will indeed be showing up at the Detroit Auto Show next month. It will bring attitude with it, not only in the form of sheetmetal inspired by the Atlas concept (pictured) that appeared at the 2013 Detroit show but also in the Alcoa military blast shields among the display being used to showcase the ruggedness of aluminum.
There's been a lot of talk about the F-150 switching to aluminum body panels (although maintaining a steel frame), and for good reason. The lightweight body is expected to shed more than 700 pounds and greatly increase its highway mileage, but production-line issues and possible delays have been a major focus of attention concerning the best-selling vehicle in America for 32 years, meaning Ford has to get it right. F-150 is responsible for a massive portion of the company's global profits and it will come in a year when company profits are already predicted to decline because of new car launches.
When it comes to dings, the Bloomberg story says Ford wants Alcoa to supply some of the military-grade aluminum it uses for blast shields on battlefield vehicles to help it talk up the toughness of aluminum. Reading commentary on the many stories about the F-150 reveals there are many more little questions about the aluminum overhaul, like "How much will it cost to repair and insure?" and "How will companies hang their magnetic signs?" Answers should start coming in a couple of weeks.