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Honda, BMW Drive Aluminum Use Higher

DN Staff

March 31, 2009

2 Min Read
Honda, BMW Drive Aluminum Use Higher

Automotiveuse of aluminum continues to rise as North American automakers look for proventechnology to reduce curb weight.

A new studyby Ducker Worldwide, commissioned by The Aluminum Association, reports thepercentage of aluminum in cars averages 8.6 percent, an all-time high. That'sup from just 2 percent in 1970 and 5.1 percent in 1990. The use of aluminum incars and light trucks is projected to be nearly 11 percent of curb weight by2020.

Globally,the amount of aluminum content for light vehicles is 7.8 percent of the averageworldwide light vehicle curb weight of 3,185 lbs in 2009. According to thestudy, growth in aluminum content is predicted to continue at a rate of four-to-five lbs per vehicle per year and approach 300 lbs per vehicle worldwide in2020.

"Asautomakers seek to innovate and differentiate themselves with more fuel-efficient cars and trucks with a reduced carbon footprint, the time to useadvanced materials like aluminum is now," says Buddy Stemple, chairman of theAluminum Association's Auto & Light Truck Group.

More than50 vehicles produced in North America containover 10 percent aluminum content.

Vehiclesmanufactured by Honda and BMW average more than 340 lbs of aluminum pervehicle. General Motors, Honda, Toyota,BMW, Hyundai and Volkswagen all increased the amount of aluminum content oftheir North American vehicles from 2006 to 2009.

Much of thegain is coming in engine blocks and steering knuckles with penetration ofaluminum blocks reaching nearly 70 percent. More than 22 percent of vehiclescurrently made in the U.S.have aluminum hoods, an all-time record.

"We'reseeing continued growth of automotive aluminum because of the relevantadvantages it offers, such as improved fuel economy and vehicle safety," saysStemple. "In fact, hybrid and diesel vehicles when paired with aluminum canactually pay consumers back faster than if those vehicles were made of heaviersteel."

Materialexperts and body engineers surveyed in this study expect 25 percent of fueleconomy improvement to come from weight savings, while powertrain expertspredict 50 percent of the improvements will be the result of weightreduction.

Otheroptions, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics, are still on the drawingboards for parts on expensive cars, such as certain Corvette models, but remaintoo pricey for most vehicles.

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