More aluminium than ever before is being used in North America-produced passenger cars and trucks. The light metal accounts for 8.6 percent of average vehicle curb weight this year, compared to 2 percent in 1970 and 5.1 percent in 1990.
The Ducker Worldwide study, commissioned by the US Aluminum Association, confirms the growth in aluminium use in vehicles produced in North America. The study also shows that aluminium is expected to account for 11 percent of the curb weight of cars and light trucks by 2020.
Worldwide, the amount of aluminium represents 7.8 percent of the average 2009-model light vehicle curb weight of 3185 pounds (1448 kg).
With annual growth of about 2-to-2.5 kg per vehicle, the amount of aluminium per vehicle is expected to approach 136 kg (300 pounds) worldwide by 2020.
Aluminium is used exclusively for automotive heat transfer applications, according to the report, but accounts for only 11 percent of the bumper beam market. Hydro is a leader in both of these areas.
North America in lead
North America is the world leader in aluminium use in cars and light trucks, with more than 50 vehicles containing over 10 percent aluminium content, according to Ducker Worldwide.
Honda and BMW are the "aluminium content" leaders, averaging more than 154 kgs (340 pounds) per vehicle. General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Volkswagen have also increased the amount of aluminium content in their North American vehicles since 2006.
"We're seeing continued growth because of the relevant advantages that aluminium offers, such as improved fuel economy and vehicle safety," says Buddy Stemple, who chairs the Aluminum Association's Auto & Light Truck Group. "Hybrid and diesel vehicles, when paired with aluminium, can actually pay consumers back faster than if those vehicles were made of heavier steel."
Global growth, too
Aluminium content in light vehicles has grown in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and Japan. Ducker estimates that 67 vehicles from the European (49) and Japanese (18) markets now contain more than 182 kgs (400 pounds) of the light metal.
At the same time, aluminium usage in Chinese vehicles is predicted to surpass Japanese automakers by 2020.
The study also indicated that secondary - or, recycled - aluminium will continue to represent at least 50 percent of the total amount of automotive aluminium used through 2020.