DETROIT – A survey of North American automakers found that they will, on average, seek to lower the weight of cars and light trucks by at least 10 percent by 2025.
The reason cited is to meet the new CAFE standards set by the Obama administration. Research firm Ducker Worldwide conducted the survey on behalf of the Aluminum Association. The association’s survey shows a planned increase in aluminum vehicle components to reduce vehicle weight.
The survey estimates automakers will increase their use of aluminum from 327 pounds in 2009 to 550 pounds in 2025. The association said it expects this to lower the overall weight of vehicles by approximately 400 pounds per vehicle. As aluminum use increases, and stricter fuel-economy regulations come about, the aluminum mix percent is expected to double, the association stated.
The survey also looked at the automakers and vehicle models that are using the greatest amounts of aluminum. General Motors leads with 366 lbs. per vehicle. The association’s survey found that the latest model vehicles boasting above average aluminum content (at more than nine percent of vehicle curb weight) include the Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Ford Explorer, Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Lincoln MKZ, Chrysler C sedan, Honda Civic/CR-V, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Avalon, and Fiat 500.
On a segment basis, the survey says more aluminum will be used in mid-size and large sedans and full-size full frame vehicles (i.e. light-duty pick-up trucks).
In terms of how this additional aluminum will affect vehicle cost, the association’s survey found that the primary and secondary weight savings, potential fuel savings, and design flexibility all mean the cost of the change in materials is estimated at less than $500, before factoring in secondary cost savings from “downsized” components.
Aluminum is used more in hoods, trunks, doors, and bumpers. The survey found that body, bumper, and closure aluminum content increased by 58 percent between 2009-MY vehicles and 2012-MY vehicles. In addition, 30 percent of all hoods on 2012-MY vehicles are aluminum, and 20 percent of all bumpers in 2012-MY vehicles will be aluminum.
Sources: Ducker Worldwide, Aluminum Association