While celebrating one IIHS safety test Thursday, Ford criticized another study which concluded the aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 cost more to repair than the 2014 steel version.
In doing so, it cited a recent study by Assured Performance of 337 Ford F-150 repairs seen in the Ford aluminum-certified network of shops which found an average repair bill cheaper than that of the 1,238 2014 Ford F-150s seen by Assured shops. Assured handles the certification of Ford’s recommended repairers.
But Assured Performance CEO Scott Biggs later Thursday cautioned not to draw too much from the information, which he said simply averaged repair bills from the 121 collision repair facilities which had worked on 2015 F-150s and the 315 which had worked on the 2014 F-150.
“It’s interesting data,” Biggs said, but Assured warned against any “major conclusions.”
Assured found that the 2015 F-150 so far had cost an average of $1,476.93 to fix at certified shops versus $2,345.97 for the 2014 F-150s repaired at Assured shops.
“Albeit early, and based upon limited data, that is significant!” it wrote in an internal July 30 email to Assured-certified shops provided by Ford to accompany its statement disputing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data.
While Assured did have 334 data points instead of a single battered vehicle, such as in the IIHS and Edmunds experiments, Biggs cautioned that the information was “anecdotal,” and at this point more of an interesting tidbit the company wanted to share with its certified shops.
Ford said in July it hadn’t reached its desired “full availability” yet for the 2015 trucks on dealer lots, and insurers have told Automotive News they’re waiting for at least a year of data before they make any decision on different premiums for the 2015 F-150.
Assured did not attempt to match damage to damage or take into account pricier options on the various 2014 and 2015 F-150s, Biggs said. It merely performed a gross “estimate to estimate” look which averaged the 2015 F-150 repairs, which ranged from a humorous $10 to in the $22,100 range, and the compared that to the average the 2014 repairs, which ranged from an even funnier $5 to $27,000 or so, according to Biggs.
The study didn’t account for different labor rates for steel and aluminum; some repairers see higher aluminum rates as a way to recoup training and equipment costs necessary to work on the metal.
However, Biggs doubted different rates were being used at the shops in question.
“I wouldn’t think so but I do not know that for a fact,” he said. “We did not ask that question. … I wouldn’t speculate one way or another.”
The IIHS crashed the driver’s side front corner of the 2015 F-150 into the rear passenger’s side corner of the 2014 F-150 at a 15 percent overlap, and then did the same test with the 2014 banging into the 2015’s rear passenger-side test.
The two were fixed at a dealership certified to fix the aluminum F-150, and the bill came out to $4,147 for the front damage on the aluminum F-150, compared to $3,759 for the steel model. It comes up to a difference of $388, or 22 percent higher. Though the rear of the aluminum truck doesn’t look nearly as bad as the front in the photos provided by the IIHS, it actually cost more than $1,000 to fix than the steel version: $4,738 versus $3,275, or 42 percent higher.
Also Thursday, the IIHS announced the aluminum crew cab 2015 Ford F-150 had earned a Top Safety Pick rating, indicating it’s safer in a crash than the 2014 steel version. The extended cab 2015 F-150, however, only got a marginal score on the small-overlap crash test compared to the crew cab’s top “good” score, and the extended cab failed to achieve the crew cab’s Top Safety Pick recognition.
That test wasn’t performed the last time the extended cab F-150 was tested, which involved the 2008 model year. The 2014 F-150 crew cab testing didn’t include that test either.
Assured Performance, July 30, 2015
Featured image: On a 2015 Ford F-150 aluminum truck, right, crashed in an experiment by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, mechanics had to assemble components like wiring harnesses and splash guards under the totaled fender before installing a new one. At left is a similarly crashed 2014 Ford F-150. (Provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Status Report)