Indicative of predictions for auto aluminum demand to double in next decade
Detroit – The 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer – winners of the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year award at this year’s North American International Auto Show – illustrate the advantages of using aluminum to help reduce vehicle weight, improve fuel economy and lower emissions.
Featuring several aluminum components including front and rear bumpers, hood and wheels, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt can drive 25-50 miles on electric power before the gas engine begins to provide electric power to the motor. The Chevrolet Volt gas engine has an EPA estimated mileage of 35 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. According to research by the Aluminum Association in conjunction with Ricardo, opting for high-strength, low-weight aluminum over heavier steel structures for plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles can cut battery costs by approximately $3.00 for every $1.00 invested in downweighting with aluminum.
The 2011 Ford Explorer also uses more lightweight materials – including an aluminum hood, engine and wheels – to achieve 20 percent better fuel economy over the previous model; earning an estimated EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
“The 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer show how aluminum can play a role in achieving higher fuel economy with lower emissions,” said Randall Scheps, Chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group and Alcoa’s Director of Ground Transportation. “Aluminum can safely cut vehicle weight without reducing vehicle size offering great potential, since lighter vehicles can produce fewer emissions and need less fuel or battery power to operate.”
As the auto industry rebounds from the effects of the economic downturn, aluminum is perfectly positioned to offer lighter weight and better fuel economy with no compromise to size or safety. Aluminum’s inherent advantages in automotive applications have created four decades of uninterrupted growth for the light metal. With the increased interest in fuel efficiency today, aluminum use could more than double in cars in the next decade.
Research shows that a 15 percent weight reduction made possible with aluminum equates to a 10 percent fuel economy gain. Aluminum also has lower life cycle CO2 emissions than steel or high strength steel. In fact, every pound of aluminum that replaces steel on a vehicle saves approximately 20 pounds of CO2.
“Weight is the enemy of efficiency and that’s why vehicle weight – not vehicle size – must be reduced significantly in concert with engine technology and other advances as auto and truck makers race to meet the aggressive fuel economy and emissions regulations proposed by the federal government,” said Scheps. “When it comes to materials selection for the next generation of cars and trucks, aluminum delivers like no other and must be an integral part of the overall solution.”
For more information and research on the safety and environmental advantages of engineering with auto aluminum, visit www.aluminumintransportation.org.
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About the Aluminum Association
Through its Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG), the Aluminum Association communicates the benefits of aluminum in ground transportation applications to help accelerate its penetration through research programs and related outreach activities. The ATG’s mission is to serve member companies and act as a central resource for the automotive and commercial vehicle industries on aluminum issues. Members of the ATG include: Alcoa Inc., Novelis Inc., Rio Tinto Alcan, Aluminum Precision Products Inc., Hydro, Kaiser Aluminum Corporation and Sapa Group.