Ford Motor Co. will require all repair shops to be certified if they want to fix the new aluminum-bodied F-150 that debuts later this year.
The Dearborn automaker said that it expects most of its dealers to seek certification, which includes tooling upgrades that will cost between $30,000 and $50,000.
Ford will chip in $10,000 to any interested dealer with a service shop.
The announcement, which came out of a dealer meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association conference, deviates from a previous Ford statement that said the company would not require dealers to be certified. The method of certifying service centers and repair shops is not new.
German automakers with aluminum-intensive cars won’t ship parts to service and repair facilities unless they are certified.
The 40th-anniversary F-150 will be up to 700 pounds lighter than the current truck. About 70 pounds of weight savings are the result of a new, high-strength steel chassis; the rest come from an all-aluminum body and bed. In the trucks currently on dealer lots, the hood is the only body component made of aluminum.
Todd Citron, general manager at Hub City Ford in Lafayette, La., said he plans to get his service shop certified for the new pickup, which he expects will arrive at his dealer by September.
Citron said that by Ford requiring a certification, it will create some level of exclusivity around F-150 repairs, which he anticipates will funnel more business into his service shop.
Ford is trying to put a greater emphasis on service shops at its dealers. The automaker cited the fact that 80 percent of repair work in the U.S. is currently done by independent shops and not dealer service centers.