Ford engineers took a more holistic approach to weight reduction for the F-150 truck. They incorporated materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including powertrain, chassis, body, battery and interior features, and even used advanced 3D printing technologies from another Pittsburgh area company, ExOne, to create some of the parts.

The new F-150 is being touted as “a giant leap forward in truck technology,” according to Ford. While the 2015 model is still mounted on an exceptionally strong and well-proven high-strength steel frame, it incorporates the latest high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys in a bonded structure made of Alcoa 951 to form the body and cargo box.

Because aluminum recoils better than steel, it provides the consumer a more durable vehicle. It’s the best of both worlds, says Ford.

Still, the move to aluminum initially frightened some of Ford’s more staid  board members. It caused new problems in the assembly plants, forcing challenges in new dies on which the metal is formed, creating requirements that altered and slowed assembly speeds to compensate for unique attributes of aluminum.

But the new methods have actually lowerd some the production and supply costs and Fords’ engineers explain that it is possible to produce vehicles in the same, or even higher volumes as those they had been producing with steel bodies. And with all the new methods it has actually lowered some of the production and supply costs. (Ford produced over 700,000 F-150’s in 2013.)

Beyond improved production efficiencies and vehicle design, the 2015 aluminum F150 opens the door to other changes. Fuel economy is the biggest boon. A government-regulated design requirement mandates that trucks in this class reach over 55 mpg by 2025. The current version of the F120 which is the company’s most popular pickup in the U.S., now averages 17 mpg combined city and highway. The aluminum alloy used in the 2015 model cuts the weight of the new F-150 truck by about 700 pounds, roughly a 15% reduction that should also improve fuel consumption by as much as 10 miles per gallon more.

In addition, it will forward new designs that will help stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere at around 450 parts per million–the level many scientists, businesses and governmental agencies believe may avoid the most serious effects of climate change.

All this innovation means a promising future for Alcoa. Transportation experts at the National Transportation Advisory Board of the National Research Council predict that the amount of aluminum in North American vehicles will quadruple by next year, and increase tenfold by 2025.