Alcan’s Aluminium Front Bumper Beams Contribute to Opel Astra’s Safety System

Alcan's state-of-the-art aluminium front bumper beams are making an important contribution to the new Opel Astra's safety system. Over a million bumper beams a year are now being manufactured for Opel models alone. In 2003 Alcan produced over six million side-impact beams, two million bumper systems and more than one million instrument panel supports for the automotive industry.

"Aluminium structural components have become the technology of choice for many European automakers to both reduce vehicle weight and enhance safety," said Michel Jacques, president and CEO, Alcan Engineered Products, "These lightweight components provide high potential for further improvement in weight reduction, safety and structural stiffness.

In the event of a minor collision, the repair-friendly design of the new Opel Astra serves to reduce repair-shop time and cost. A key component in the design is the Alcan front bumper. Produced at Alcan Automotive's crash-management centre in Gottmadingen, Germany, the front bumper beam features an innovative design, which includes a special aluminium extrusion attached to the vehicle body via high-strength crash boxes. The energy-absorbing characteristics of the system prevent expensive damage to structural components in a low speed collision.

A unique bending method used in the automated production line process permits the shaping of high-strength materials to exact tolerances, ensuring safety, reparability and cost benefits to the end customer.

Alcan is a multinational, market-driven company and a global leader in aluminium and packaging, as well as aluminium recycling. With world-class operations in primary aluminium, fabricated aluminium as well as flexible and specialty packaging, aerospace applications, bauxite mining and alumina processing, today's Alcan is even better positioned to meet and exceed its customers' needs for innovative solutions and service. Alcan employs 88,000 people and has operating facilities in 63 countries.

Fact Sheet

  • In 2003 Alcan produced over 6 million side-impact beams, 2 million bumper systems and more than 1 million instrument panel supports for the automotive industry
  • Over a million bumper beams a year are now being manufactured for Opel models alone (Astra, Corsa and the Meriva).
  • Lightweight bumper beams have also been developed for Audi, BMW, Jaguar, the Mercedes Car Group and PSA.
  • In total, Alcan manufactures 15 different bumper systems, 18 side-impact beams and 3 types of instrument panel supports.
  • To meet the growing demand, Alcan Automotive added three new production facilities to the crash-management competence centre, opened in 2000. Alcan has also invested in new fabrication methods and manufacturing equipment designed to keep pace with the Opel Astra's needs.
  • Steadily increasing sales confirm the attractiveness of Alcan solutions to customers.
  • Alcan is replicating its success in Europe with aluminium bumper beams by transferring the technology to North America. In April 2004 it opened a bumper beam production facility near Detroit, Michigan, and an additional factory in Quebec, Canada, is now under construction.

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