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Outlook


Aluminum Rolls On


In 2012, the Obama Administration finalized new regulations that will nearly double fuel economy by 2025 to fleet averages of 54.5 mpg. Against this back- drop, use of automotive aluminum is at record highs today and the upward pro- jected trend is expected to continue with explosive growth in the pickup truck, SUV and full-size sedan segments. For the past 40 years, automotive aluminum has steadily grown. More recently, use of the high-strength, low-weight metal has accelerated thanks to groundbreaking vehicle launches like Land Rover’s 2013 Range Rover, the world’s first all-alumi- num SUV, and the five-star safety rated Tesla Model S. To highlight this significant alu-


minum boom, the Aluminum Asso- ciation’s Transportation Group (ATG) commissioned global consulting and research firm Ducker Worldwide to conduct a survey of aluminum use by North American automakers, the seventh survey of its kind. Te findings of the survey were compiled using data updated and verified between October 2013 and April 2014. By 2025, more than 75% of all new


pickup trucks produced in North America will be aluminum-bodied, and the number of vehicles with complete aluminum body structures will reach 18% of North American production, from less than 1% today. Tese leaps in automotive aluminum will drive a 37% jump in North America’s total alumi- num use, which will rise to 10 billion lb (4.5 billion kg). Te launch of the all new aluminum-


bodied 2015 Ford F-150—America’s best-selling vehicle—is regarded as a


tipping point for automotive aluminum as it signals the metal’s breakthrough to high-volume vehicles, with pickup trucks first up for conversion. Te


The substantial growth during the next decade will be driven primarily by an increase in vehicles with aluminum closures and complete body structures, which will more than quadruple by 2025.


F-150’s debut will lead the way and by 2015, pickup trucks will contain the most aluminum at an average 548.9 lb (247 kg) per vehicle, followed closely by E segment sedans at 546.9 lb (246 kg), SUVs at 410.3 lb (184.6 kg) and mini- vans at 396.5 lb (178.4 kg). During the next decade, every leading automaker will have several aluminum body and closure panel programs. Te substantial growth during the


next decade will be driven primarily by an increase in vehicles with aluminum closures and complete body structures, which will more than quadruple by 2025. By building vehicles with alumi- num, cars and trucks can maintain size and weigh less without compromising performance, durability or safety. Long lasting, strong and corrosion resistant, aluminum also reduces the need for rust repair and increases a vehicle’s lifespan. As the material mix for body and


closure parts continues to change dramatically in the years to come, use of aluminum sheet for vehicle bodies will increase to 4 billion lb (1.8 billion kg) by 2025, from 200 million lb (90 million kg) in 2012, and average aluminum


Doug Richman


Technical Committee Chairman Aluminum Transportation Group Aluminum Association Arlington, VA


content in 2015 will be up 44 lb (19.8 kg) per vehicle or 13% over 2012. Additionally, the study reveals that


General Motors and Chrysler will join Ford in becoming the biggest users of aluminum sheet as it gains significant market share in high-volume vehicles. By 2025, 26.6% of all the body and closure parts for light vehicles in North America will be made of aluminum. Aluminum hood penetration will reach 85% and doors will reach 46%. Alongside an increase in aluminum


sheet usage, growth in nonbody applica- tions is also expected in components such as castings and extrusions for wheels, engines, bumpers and sub- frames. Te numbers of the 2015 Ducker


survey of automakers tell a powerful story of aluminum’s explosive growth across the automotive sector. American drivers won’t visibly notice a different metal under the paint, but they’ll see greater savings at the gas pump and experience better performance and handling at the wheel. For automakers, reducing weight


will continue to be a central focal point in the future of automotive design, particularly as the 2025 mileage regula- tions approach. Multimaterial vehicle designs will be prevalent as automakers strive for safer, cleaner, more durable vehicles.


In addition to being chairman of the Technical Committee of the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group, Doug Richman is vice president of engineering and technology of Kaiser Aluminum, Foothill Ranch, CA.


Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 31


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