Thursday, 22 September 2011 16:52

American Automakers Using More Aluminum in Vehicles

A survey conducted by Ducker Worldwide has found North American automakers are using more aluminum in their automobiles. Vehicles made with more aluminum should reduce the weight of vehicles and increase fuel economy.

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Aluminum in 2012 North American Light Vehicles, conducted for The Aluminum Association, estimates North American automakers will increase their use of aluminum from 327 pounds per vehicle in 2009 to 550 pounds per vehicle in 2025.

The survey shows continued growth in overall use of aluminum reaching an all-time high of 343 pounds per vehicle in 2012—up five percent from 327 pounds per vehicle in 2009. The report predicts aluminum is expected to double its share of the average automotive materials mix to 16 percent by 2025, with future cars and light trucks reaching an expected average of 550 pounds per vehicle of automotive aluminum.

Randall Scheps, chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group and marketing director at Alcoa Inc., says, “We are fast-entering a transition stage to more holistic vehicle design approaches premised on greater use of lighter, stronger and more crash-absorbent aluminum alloys replacing less efficient iron and steel. Vehicles with their size maintained but down weighted with aluminum are inherently more efficient than heavier ones.”

According to survey findings, body, bumper and closure content grew by 58 percent between 2009 and 2012, with 30 percent of all hoods on 2012 vehicles being aluminum. By 2012, the survey expects 20 percent of all bumpers will be aluminum.

 

“New, stringent federal fuel economy regulations, coupled with consumer angst about high and unstable gas prices, is leading automakers to move quickly with a total rethinking of vehicle design as they also push ahead with alternate power trains, new technologies and advanced materials. In terms of boosting fuel economy and cutting tailpipe emissions, aluminum offers automakers the fastest, safest, most environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to get the job done. Low-density aluminum is a game-changer and automakers are moving quickly to take full advantage of all the consumer benefits it provides,” Scheps says. Other Highlights from the Report include:

The average increase in aluminum content since 1975 has been seven pounds per year per light vehicle.

Automakers will, on average, seek to lower the weight of cars and light trucks by at least 10 percent by 2025.

Market factors already in place are projected to push aluminum content to 400 pounds per vehicle in 2015/2016.

Aluminum is gaining market share at the expense of both traditional and high strength steels, which are declining as a percentage of vehicle makeup.

Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) also are growing at the expense of inferior steels, but gauge reduction with AHSS provides limited weight savings potential compared to using lower density aluminum. Pound for pound, aluminum replaces more than twice as much weight as AHSS.

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