Algonquin Automotive Group is taking plastics out to the "Easy Rider" crowd, producing a reaction injection molded tonneau cover for Ford Motor Co.'s new Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup truck. The black truck, built in a joint branding agreement between the automaker and the motorcycle trendsetter, will carry the biggest single Class A painted surface plastic part on a production North American passenger car or light truck, said Chuck Hixson, vice president of sales and marketing-tonneau team for Madison Heights, Mich.-based Algonquin.
The Harley's bed is 8 feet long and a little more than 5 feet wide — double the length of the 4-foot thermoset bed now in production for Ford's Explorer Sport Trac.
The Sport Trac has an optional tonneau cover. The Harley-Davidson F-150 marks the first standard hard tonneau cover for a Ford truck.
"It's an image vehicle," said Glenn Ray, vehicle programs manager for Ford's large and luxury vehicle center product development public affairs department. "Everyone's going to want one of these things."
Production begins in May at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant, with capacity to turn out up to 7,500 custom trucks annually.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford and Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson tout the vehicle as a "unique blend" of their companies.
Priced at nearly $33,000, the limited-edition truck is geared at the average Harley customer — a middle-aged man with an annual income of at least $60,000 — a far cry from the bike's rebel image of the past.
"It's very stylish, very classy," Hixson said March 29 by telephone. "It'll catch your eye, but it's very understated. There's no big orange decal on it."
The RIM, high-gloss painted surface is an important part of the overall image of the vehicle, with fit, durability and overall look to match the rest of the truck, he said.
"It's quite an improvement over the current fiberglass [covers]," Hixson said.
Ford and Harley-Davidson already have rolled out the prototype at motorcycle meccas in Sturgis, S.D., and Daytona Beach, Fla.
Algonquin will rely heavily on Tier 2 suppliers to deliver the assembled and painted cover to Ford meeting the automakers' specifications, Hixson said.
He could not discuss details of the project until full production begins, but said it does push plastics potential further on vehicles.
"It is a unique project," he said.