Aluminum-bodied Vehicles are Among the Very Safest on the Road
With the help of aluminum, automotive manufacturers are designing and developing the safest, strongest and most durable cars and trucks ever imagined. It’s no coincidence automakers are increasingly using aluminum as part of the multi-material mix. In a crash, aluminum is designed to absorb energy from the impact and deflect it away from vehicle occupants, allowing the vehicle—not the passengers—to absorb much of the crash energy.
Every aluminum-bodied car or truck ever crash tested by U.S. federal regulators earned a perfect 5-star safety rating, including recent models of the acclaimed Ford F-150 (2015-2016 Regular Cab) and Tesla Model S (2013-2014 Tesla Model S).
The superior energy absorption properties of high-strength aluminum alloys, combined with intelligent vehicle design, make aluminum-intensive vehicles among the very safest on the road. When the Ford F-150 upgraded to an aluminum-alloy body from steel, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration raised its crash safety test rating from four stars to five stars overall, demonstrating that aluminum alloys are highly crash absorbent and can be designed to deflect crash forces away from vehicle occupants.
Bigger IS Better…and Safer
Another key safety factor is vehicle size: In a crash, larger vehicles are generally better than smaller ones, and size is generally more important than weight for safety. To conserve fuel and reduce emissions, aluminum can safely reduce vehicle weight (up to 40 percent according to a report from the University of Aachen, Germany) while maintaining or even increasing vehicle size for greater crash protection.
Federal regulators and leading U.S. and international automakers agree that well-designed, lower weight vehicles can be as safe as or even safer than heavier vehicles—and they all meet or exceed the toughest federal safety standards.
Aluminum’s Safety Advantages
- Pound for pound, aluminum can absorb twice as much crash energy as steel.
- Aluminum can be used to maintain or even increase the size and energy absorption capacity of a vehicle’s critical front- and back-end crumple zones for added safety, without increasing overall weight.
- Aluminum components can be designed to fold predictably during a crash, allowing the vehicle to absorb much of the crash energy before it gets to the passenger compartment.
- All other factors equal, vehicles made lighter with aluminum require shorter stopping distances than heavier vehicles to help drivers avoid crashes altogether.