A study commissioned by the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG) determined that the percentage of high-strength, low-weight aluminium used in vehicles is expected to rise faster over the next decade than ever before.
The study, which the Aluminum Association made public yesterday, found that the average total aluminium content per vehicle is expected to rise from 397 pounds in 2015 to 565 pounds by 2028, which will make up 16 percent of the vehicle’s total weight. Automakers surveyed by Ducker indicated that doors, hoods and trunk lids, body-in-white, bumpers and crash boxes are the areas where automakers intend to increase the use of aluminium and its alloys.
“Aluminum remains the fastest growing automotive material over competing materials and is entering its most unprecedented growth phase since we’ve been tracking the shifting mix of automotive materials,” said Ducker Worldwide’s Abey Abraham. “To further improve fuel economy, battery range,safety and overall driving performance, automakers no longer default to a single material and instead are pursuing a multi-material design approach where the best material is chosen for the best application. This design evolution is what’s driving aluminum’s increased market penetration in the auto sector.”
Ducker also determined that the North American automotive sector is expected to use up to 9 billion pounds per year by 2020, which translates to 466 pounds of aluminium per vehicle, a 69-pound increase over 2015. The usage of aluminium in hoods is expected to rise by 21 percent by 2020, and roughly half of the increased aluminium usage will take place in closures, crash management systems, steering knuckles, and structural vacuum die cast parts.
Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, expressed high hopes for both aluminium producers and automotive consumers as the use of aluminium continues to rise.
“As our automotive customers embrace a multi-material approach to new car and truck design, that directly translates to increased amounts of aluminum. On top of 40 years of uninterrupted growth, the aluminum industry is experiencing a level of sustained growth not seen before in any market or product sector. However, the true winners of this change are American consumers who can choose next-generation cars and trucks that are high performing, efficient, safe, sustainable and more fun to drive. A thriving aluminum sector is vital to automakers, the nation’s manufacturing base and a healthy U.S. economy. The aluminum industry invested or committed more than $2 billion to ensure increased capacity in the U.S. since 2013, and the industry is prepared to continue such investments in domestic manufacturing jobs as demand continues to grow.”
Ducker also found that by 2028 fully one-quarter of all vehicles rolling off of North American assembly lines will have at least part of the body-in-white consist of aluminium. Increased usage of aluminium is expected to reduce curb weight by seven percent (270 pounds on average) by 2025.
“It is proven that vehicles made lighter with aluminum offer consumers better fuel economy, improved safety and enhanced performance,” explained Brock. “Furthermore, aluminum is the best choice for the environment when compared to both traditional and advanced steels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oakridge National Laboratory.”