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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ford introduced its next-generation F-Series pickup truck at the North American Auto Show. Mark Fields, chief operating officer of Ford, told TheStreet's Ruben Ramirez the new truck -- which he said was the top-selling U.S. vehicle for the past 32 years -- is shifting from steel to high-strength aluminum for the body, cab and cargo bed. 

The move to aluminum will shave off 700 pounds from the vehicle. The F-Series will be able to tow and haul more, accelerate and brake faster and have vastly improved fuel economy, he added. 

But after a solid 2013, can the pickup truck market continue to hum? 

Fields said the auto industry as a whole should continue to benefit from an improving economy, higher consumer confidence and a low interest rate environment. 

He added that truck sales have a high correlation with the housing market and thinks the housing recovery is still in the beginning stages. He thinks pent-up demand and replacement demand should help contribute to a strong 2014. 

Fields believes auto sales could surpass expectations of 16 million vehicles sold in 2014, and he optimistically predicts the industry range could be between 16 million and 17 million units. 

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.