By Nick Gilbert
According to an analysis conducted by CCID Consulting, aluminum has become an ideal alternative material for application in the automobile market as there is an increasing demand for lightweight vehicles.
The aluminum body of a vehicle has 46% less weight when compared to a traditional steel body. In addition, the use of aluminum enhances fuel efficiency and safety.
Aluminum parts are now used in various automobile applications, including section bars and sheets, forgings and castings. Aluminum material has been utilized in automobile body, particularly for trunk lids, doors and cabin covers. Nevertheless, China has witnessed a slow growth of aluminum use in automobiles because of technical issues related to sheets’ performance and application. Hence, technical breakthroughs are anticipated to allow massive application of aluminum in automobile construction. The local research institutes, automobile manufacturers and aluminum companies will have to join and speed up the research and development process to overcome the technical bottlenecks.
The automobile sales volume in China reduced dramatically to 2.45% in 2011 due to the delay of auto consumption incentive policies. The Chinese automobile market is expected to have a steady growth from 2012 to 2015 with a CAGR of 8.1%, and the sales volume is projected to reach a value of 25.287 million by 2015.
According to CCID Consulting estimation, the passenger vehicle market will require a minimum of 1.802 million tons of aluminum sheets per year, assuming that aluminum substitutes 15% of the steel in vehicle manufacturing by 2015. Even if aluminum substitutes just 5% of the steel, the demand will still be 601,000 tons.