Automakers to use more aluminum for vehicle construction

June 12, 2014 12:00 AM

The Detroit News covered a recent study from Ducker Worldwide that predicts 70 percent of pickup trucks will have an aluminum body by 2025. The study was encouraged by the Aluminum Transportation Group, which advocates the use of aluminum in car production. Aluminum, which is lighter than steel, could increase fuel efficiency and lighten the weight of future vehicles. 

These two elements are of growing importance as federal emission standards increase. One of the best ways to meet that standard is through weight reduction, though automakers could also reduce the size of the vehicle's engine or improve its aerodynamic drag. Using a lighter material like aluminum is a way for automakers to meet the standard and not compromise on vehicle size. 

After pickup trucks, vehicles that may see some aluminum construction in the future include large sedans, minivans and SUVs. Ducker estimates that the demand for aluminum will grow exponentially in the coming years because of the emission standards. The company predicted that by 2025, aluminum content in vehicles could reach 550 pounds. Currently, as of 2013, the aluminum content is 350 pounds.

That increasing content will correspond with automakers' growing demand for raw aluminum. Again, Ducker predicts that producers will need nearly 20 times the amount of aluminum as they need today by 2025. Aluminum will be used for 85 percent of vehicle hoods, 50 percent of vehicle doors, and around 30 percent of vehicle roofs. Ford Motor Co. is one of the first producers jumping on the aluminum bandwagon, as they are introducing the first aluminum-bodied vehicle later this year, the 2015 F-150. 

Ford's website boasts that the new truck will feature a body and bed made of high-strength aluminum alloy. This truck will weigh as much as 700 pounds less than its previous model, making it more capable and effective. 

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