Aluminum Use Grows in Automotive as OEMs Drive Down Weight

2nd August 2012

The use of aluminum in cars and trucks is expanding rapidly as auto-makers looks to remove weight from cars according to the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group. The use of the metal as a replacement for traditional steels is at an all time high and that’s a good thing for consumers and the environment says the Association.

On top of 40 years of uninterrupted growth, it is the number two material used to make cars today, and according to car manufacturers is expected to double by 2025. The greater use of high-strength, low weight aluminum provides consumers and automakers with vehicles that are economical, durable, high performing and safe. They also produce fewer emissions and use less fuel or battery power to operate, helping automakers meet stricter federal regulations and saving consumers money at the pump.

Top-performing vehicles made by Tesla, Audi and Jaguar, as well as durable SUVs like Land Rover, are already aluminum intensive, and a range of passenger cars on the road today contain more than 500 pounds (226 kg) of aluminum.

According to the Aluminum Association, aluminum cars and trucks offer distinct advantages over the status quo, as they are:

 

Efficient

  • Matching smart aluminum designs with advanced powertrains cuts vehicle weight to conserve fuel or battery power.
  • Aluminum has the lowest overall carbon footprint and is infinitely recyclable. According to the Canadian government and Magnesium industry, aluminum is best when examining the full lifecycle to include tailpipe savings (20% better than steel).

Durable

  • The U.S. military taps aluminum for troop carriers (HUMVEE) and tactical trucks that hold up and last in the most unforgiving environments.  Rugged SUVs make great use of aluminum, which is also rust-resistant.

Safe

  • Aluminum is highly crash absorbent and can be designed to deflect crash energies away from vehicle occupants according to research, Automotive Safety: Size vs. Weight Debate.
  • Designed to fold predictably during a crash, aluminum allows a vehicle to absorb much of the crash energy. Aluminum absorbs – pound for pound – two times the energy in a crash compared to steel and it offers greater weight reduction potential while retaining strength.

Cost-Effective

  • Aluminum helps drive down costs through weight reduction, fuel savings, structural performance and design flexibility.
  • Aluminum enables cost savings via new holistic vehicle designs (downsized engines, parts consolidation, need for fewer/costly EV batteries, fuel savings, etc.)

High-Performing

  • For faster acceleration, shorter braking and better handling, it’s no coincidence that leading high-performance cars are all-aluminum.
  • Aluminum improves performance creating lighter vehicles with higher structural stiffness allowing the vehicle to accelerate more quickly while providing better stability and response than heavier vehicles.

 

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