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ASG life-cycle study finds aluminum Ford F-150 “Best Full-size Truck of 2015” from environmental and economic perspective

According to the latest annual life-cycle study from the Automotive Science Group (ASG), the all-new lightweight aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 leads the full-size light-duty truck competition in all environmental and economic performance areas; accordingly, ASG selected the F-150 as its Best Full-size Truck of 2015. According to ASG and the principles of ecological economics, environmental and economic considerations are equally important in determining a vehicle’s overall value. ASG’s proprietary vehicle rating platform—the Automotive Performance Index—analyzes both performance areas for a comprehensive vehicle assessment. ASG’s 2015 Study assessed 225 light-duty truck models.

Although the gasoline-fueled F-150 with 2.7L EcoBoost delivers 22 mpg (10.68 l/100 km) combined—1 mpg shy of RAM’s EcoDiesel—the F-150’s life-cycle environmental and economic performance “leaves RAM and others in the dust,” according to ASG. According to ASG, the 2015 F-150 holds the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint and lowest cost of ownership of any full-size truck in the North American market today. Ford has produced a lightweight aluminum-intensive truck that costs less and performs better than its conventional truck counterparts over the vehicle’s life-cycle, says Colby Self, managing director of ASG.

Life-cycle thinking is critical to fair and accurate vehicle comparisons, especially when vehicles are powered by different fuel sources, ASG says. Diesel fuel, for example, has higher energy content per gallon than gasoline, but due to the higher density of diesel, it also releases higher CO2-e emissions per gallon combusted. This disadvantage can be overcome in diesel configurations by greatly improved fuel economy, but the 1 mpg fuel economy advantage the RAM EcoDiesel promises over the Ford EcoBoost is not sufficient to offset other life-cycle environmental impacts.

ASG found the aluminum-intensive F-150 to incur a higher percentage of life-cycle CO2-e emissions in the material sourcing, parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly gates when compared to conventional truck configurations—accounting for approximately 10% of the F-150’s total life-cycle CO2-e emissions (Crew Cab, 2.7L EcoBoost).

But, according to ASG’s overall analysis of the F-150, the manufacturing impacts for the lightweight aluminum truck design were quickly recovered with improved use-phase efficiencies (higher mpg). Overall, ASG found the total life-cycle CO2-e emissions for the aluminum intensive F-150 (Crew Cab, 2.7L EcoBoost) to be 9% lower than the next best competitor in the full-size truck segment.

From an economic perspective, the $0.91 cost premium diesel demands at the pump over gasoline (average US price as of 12 January 2015, EIA) eliminates the financial benefits one would expect to gain with the 1 mpg fuel economy advantage that the EcoDiesel promises, according to ASG.

ASG’s 2015 findings are evidence that Ford’s forward-thinking transition to the lightweight aluminum truck design delivers superior all-around performance above and beyond the competition.

—Colby Self

In the Mid-size truck segment, the return of the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado shook up this segment. While the Toyota Tacoma was challenged by the two GM trucks, Tacoma maintained the top spot in ASG’s Extended Cab category, once again earning the Best All-Around Performance honor for 2015. But Toyota lost the top spot in the Crew Cab category to the Chevrolet Colorado, which earned ASG’s 2015 Best All-Around Performance Award in Mid-size Crew Cab truck segment.

ASG’s Best Trucks Of 2015

2015 Full-Size Truck – Regular Cab, Extended Cab & Crew Cab
Best All-Around Performance: Ford F-150
Best Economic Performance: Ford F-150
Best Social Performance: Ford F-150
Best Environmental Performance: Ford F-150

2015 Mid-Size Truck – Extended Cab
Best All-Around Performance: Toyota Tacoma
Best Economic Performance: Chevrolet Colorado
Best Social Performance: Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
Best Environmental Performance: Toyota Tacoma

2015 Mid-Size Truck – Crew Cab
Best All-Around Performance: Chevrolet Colorado
Best Economic Performance: Toyota Tacoma
Best Social Performance: Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
Best Environmental Performance: Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon

ASG approach and methodology. The Automotive Science Group (ASG) provides life-cycle data-driven findings to help consumers make purchasing decisions that are ecologically sustainable, socially equitable and economically viable.

ASG uses a principled life-cycle approach to defining an automobile’s value and relative worth, essentially breaking down each vehicle into the sum of its parts, and measuring the natural capital, human capital and the economic efficiencies embodied within each vehicle to derive its real market value and true competitive advantage.

ASG developed its Automotive Performance Index (API) using the principles of ecological economics, where social, environmental and economic considerations are all equally important in determining overall value. The Standard from which the Automotive Performance Index (API) is derived is based on 45 fundamental social, environmental and economic indicators. The Standard is a working standard, one that will evolve to incorporate additional indicators as data comes available.

Accurate class distinctions based on objective data is critical to fair and reliable automotive performance assessments. ASG’s class distinctions are data-driven and strictly adhere to the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 40 Section 600.315.08, 1 July 2013) Classes of Comparable Automobiles. 2015 classifications are based on the calculated interior volume index.

Automobiles that fall at a class intersect are further evaluated by interior and exterior dimensions to develop an advanced footprint model that bridges the class gap.

  • The Social Performance Score assesses vehicle production impacts on the people charged with vehicle manufacture and assembly and the environment. The score is based on criteria established by the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, the UN International Labor Organization’s Fundamental Human Rights Conventions, and World Bank Governance Indicators.

    The award is given to the vehicle whose production chain ensures the highest level of protection for the rights of those tasked with vehicle manufacture and assembly, while also minimizing life-cycle environmental and human health burdens.

  • The Environmental Performance Score assesses vehicle environmental impacts over its life-cycle: from raw material acquisition through end-of-life vehicle disposal and recovery. The award is given to the vehicle that achieves the highest level of protection for the environment throughout its life-cycle.

  • The Economic Performance Score assesses total cost of vehicle ownership. The assessment is based on initial vehicle purchase price and forecasted fuel costs according to fuel type and grade per US Department of Energy and US Energy Information Administration appreciation models.

    The rating shows the abridged life-cycle carrying and operating costs of vehicle ownership to assess the economic benefits of owning and operating conventional and alternatively powered vehicles. Consumers can now assess if in fact the cost premium paid upfront for fuel-efficient, hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric vehicles will ultimately lead to net savings over time when compared to conventional counterparts.

    The Best Economic Performance Award is given to the vehicle with the lowest cost of ownership in its class.

  • The All-Around Performance Score assesses the combined Social, Environmental and Economic Performance scores to distinguish the vehicle that is the top performer in all three realms when compared with others in its class.


Sophie Green

It's great to hear that truck companies are doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint. The more we're able to reduce the carbon our vehicles put out the better our environment will be. I hope that more companies take the same initiative that RAM has taken into better their trucks. I would love to hear about more vehicle companies trying to make the change that RAM has.

Sophie Green |

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