18th January 2013
On display at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is a variety of vehicles that share a key critical ingredient: growing use of advanced aluminum alloys over more traditional materials. Aluminum’s low weight, high strength, durability and energy- absorbing properties make it a fast-growing choice for automakers looking to improve vehicle fuel economy.
Building on recent great strides in automaker aluminum use as seen in the launch of the world’s first all-aluminum SUV, the 2013 Range Rover, and multiple Car of the Year winner, the Tesla Model S, some of the vehicles with increased or innovative aluminum use at NAIAS include:
- The 2013 Honda Accord, a North American Car of the Year finalist that features an aluminum hood, sub-frame, and rear bumper
- The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, featuring an aluminum hood, suspension and engine components
- The 2014 GMC Sierra, featuring an aluminum hood and suspension;
- The 2013 Cadillac ATS, a North American Car of the Year finalist that features an aluminum hood and other components;
- The 2014 Maserati Quattroporte, featuring aluminum body panels;
- The 2013 Dodge Ram 1500, the North American Truck of the Year finalist that features an aluminum hood; and
- The 2013 Scion FR-S, featuring an aluminum hood.
This increase in aluminum use on the show floor echoes findings from the latest survey of automakers by Ducker Worldwide that asserts automakers are accelerating their shift away from steel to aluminum to help meet consumer and federal fuel economy demands. The survey indicated not only is aluminum already the leading material in the engine and wheel markets, but fast-gaining market share in hoods, trunks and doors, with the next frontier being full body structures. Automakers have said they plan to increase their use of aluminum from 327 pounds in 2009 to 550 pounds in 2025.
“More aluminum in the vehicles on the NAIAS floor bodes well for consumers and the cars and trucks they drive,” said Randall Scheps , chairman of The Aluminum Association’s Transportation Group (ATG) and marketing director for Alcoa, Inc. “Aluminum makes these vehicles lighter, stronger, durable and more fuel efficient, while delivering the highest safety and driving performance standards – all the qualities consumers are looking for in a car or truck. Further, reducing weight with aluminum allows automakers to cost-effectively make vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas, helping them meet new fuel economy standards.”
As pressure mounts to meet higher fuel economy standards, automakers increasingly recognize the many benefits of downweighting with aluminum. Last year the aluminum industry released a report conducted by the AVL Group that showed no single technology approach by itself would cost effectively achieve the new 54.5 miles per gallon fuel economy target. The report showed that reducing vehicle weight is the one consistent and cost-effective strategy that can be combined with all other efficiency improvement strategies and technologies to meet the new target.