Why Automotive Engineers Are Increasing Use of Aluminum Now

Why Automotive Engineers Are Increasing Use of Aluminum Now


welcome to the aluminum channel I’m Scott Drake and today my guest is Doug Richmond Kaiser aluminum’s vice president of engineering and technology doug is also the recent recipient of the aluminum associations highest honor the Marlin bolting house award for his significant contributions to the aluminum Association and the aluminum industry well Doug there’s been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the use of aluminum and automotive applications first wire engineers increasing the use of aluminum now and is this a new phenomenon well Scott there’s two really important drivers for automotive engineers considering aluminum today one is certainly the well-publicized cafe regulations that are requiring significant improvements in fuel economy over the next 10 to 15 years but a very important and compelling factor is the voice of the customer today for the last five or six years consumers have actually been buying vehicles at much higher fuel economy levels than the cafe recover requirements have forced into the marketplace and the driver there is fuel prices with increasing fuel prices consumers are much more sensitive to vehicle fuel economy and that has become a major factor in the decision to buy a specific vehicle dug up to now what automotive products have been involved in this conversion to aluminum over several years this fuel price and interest in fuel economy has it been steadily increasing since 1975 the average aluminum use in automotive applications has gone from about 80 pounds per car to today almost 350 pounds in the average vehicle in North America now one pound of aluminum typically replaces two pounds of ferrous products steel or iron so that 350 pound increase in the use of aluminum represents a 350 pound weight savings in the average vehicle in North America today now going forward that rate of increase which has been about seven pounds per year every year since 1975 will be increasing steadily over the next five to ten years that number will increase to about 15 pounds per year out to 2025 this slide is an illustration of the rate at which aluminum has been used in the automotive industry now this is a slide of the average pounds per vehicle in the North American vehicle fleet from 1975 to 2010 which is all history and the forecast out to 2025 now early in the use of aluminum aluminum was applied typically the heat exchangers radiators Trent and transmission oil coolers that was in the early 70s and mid 70s by the 80s the evolution of aluminum use moved into wheels basically the road wheels of the vehicle about in the mid 90s wheels hit their their market penetration maximum of about sixty-five percent and them and the automotive engineering community began converting engine major engine castings to aluminum engine cylinder heads were the first area and engine blocks later and by the early 2000s virtually a hundred percent of the cylinder heads in North American vehicles were aluminum and engine blocks started to penetrate into the marketplace and in fact today engine blocks represent about eighty-five percent of the market for engine blocks in North America going forward from 2010 on to 2025 the major growth is in the area of body components and body structures specifically the closure panels doors hoods and trunks as well as the body structure itself those are composed predominantly of aluminum sheet products and aluminum extrusions with some very important alumina castings as part of the mix by 2025 the average vehicle weight in aluminum is expected to be approximately 550 pounds per vehicle that rip will represent approximately sixteen percent of the average vehicle weight at that time engineers over the past four decades have consistently learned that aluminum alternatives have provided the most cost effective strategy for achieving fuel economy objectives required in the marketplace today and in the future all right Doug thanks again well Scott thank you very much for inviting us today and I really appreciate the opportunity to actually tell you more about the really exciting things going on in this industry today it’s been a pleasure you’re watching the aluminum channel I’m Scott Drake


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