In a recent comprehensive study, research and consulting giant Ducker Worldwide says the average passenger car will contain 362 pounds of aluminum and the average light truck 523 pounds by 2020,
while projecting total aluminum content growing to 565 PPV (16% of curb mass) by 2028 with nearly 25 percent of vehicles having partial aluminum body-in-white.
At the same time as use of aluminum continues to grow, a variety of lightweight metals, including magnesium and carbon fiber, are in the sector’s sights as designers look to a mix of materials to achieve weight savings, and steelmakers have rolled out stronger, thinner and lighter steels. This suggests that automakers are less likely to rely on aluminum in their future vehicle production than previously believed.
Automakers have investigated ways to cut vehicle weight amid tighter emissions standards and have worked to make every component--from body panels and engines to brackets and windshields--lighter, often by substituting materials that can add costs but improve MPG figures.
(The current political environment could impact fuel economy regulations and possibly slow lightweighting efforts.)
Notably, Ford overhauled its best-selling F-150 pickup with aluminum in what many considered a litmus test for the metal.
But aluminum is more expensive than steel, and the F-150 is likely to represent a peak for the metal in vehicle production.
“You’ll probably never see anything again that’s as aluminum intensive,” Dick Schultz, co-author of the Ducker study, told the Wall Street Journal.
Lightweight, strong and recyclable magnesium is finding its way into an increasing number of auto components, including highly efficient and high-performance magnesium wheels.
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