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Gaudy repair, insurance prices expected for aluminum-laden vehicles

Ford Motor Co.’s aluminum-intensive F-150 likely will lure loyal truck buyers to showrooms when it debuts late this year, but experts warn consumers should prepare for sticker shock — after the purchase.

Parts and repair costs could double for the aluminum truck, say experts and body shops that fix aluminum cars on the market. And companies that analyze data for the collision industry say insurance rates will increase, probably 5 to 10 percent above the average premium of $590 a year that Erie Insurance Group tracks for the Pittsburgh area.

Ford will start production of the F-150 at its Dearborn, Mich., truck plant in the fourth quarter. The automaker hasn’t given details on price, fuel mileage, repair and insurance costs — details that insurers and companies that trade on vehicle information are awaiting to better judge the impact of aluminum on consumers.

Ford spokesman Mike Levin said insurance costs for the F-150 will be “competitive with other full-size trucks,” noting that cost has been lower than other trucks. Overall, Levine said, “the cost of ownership will be similar or less than today’s levels” because of better fuel mileage and advanced materials.

By John D. Oravecz

Originally published in the Star Tribune: Saturday, March 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

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