Long gone are the days when American drivers wanted to own big, bulky SUVs. While such vehicles provided extra roominess and cargo space, not to mention an aura of protection, they were also serious gas guzzlers. With U.S. gas prices still holding steady near the $4 per gallon mark, suddenly those automobile behemoths of the 1990s are no longer so attractive. The automobile industry, however, is adapting to consumer preference; and aluminum alloy, aluminum coil, aluminum foil and aluminum sheeting are paving the way for the automotive future.
Aluminum is now becoming the metal of choice as automobile manufacturers attempt to design vehicles that are lighter than those of past decades. This reduction in the poundage of their cars and trucks is enabling Americans to drive vehicles that are much more pump friendly; with a higher mileage per gallon.
Indeed, according to AluminiumLeader.com, the newest models coming off the automobile industry’s assembly lines are up to 24 percent lighter as a result of their components replacing steel with aluminum. This change “also allows fuel consumption to be reduced by 2 litres per 100 kilometres.” In American terms, this equates to 0.53 gallons for every 100 miles driven.
What is better still is that all this gas and money saving is achieved without giving up the safety features U.S. drivers demand. That is because the aluminum alloy sheeting that is being used in today’s vehicles is just as durable and strong as the heavier steels of yesteryear.
So just where is aluminum being used in the current crop of automobiles hitting the market? Drive shafts, chasses, suspension systems, braking systems and driveline systems are all beginning to incorporate aluminum into their functionality. The automobile industry isn’t stopping there.
U.S. auto manufacturer General Motors recently announced that it was “readying aluminum-body trucks by late 2018.” According to the Wall Street Journal news report related to this announcement, “pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards” is precipitating this move forward. Why the delay? “Aluminum sheet for automotive bodies is in such high demand that companies need to order it years in advance,” that’s why.
What about the competition? “Ford has already made the switch (to aluminum alloy). The latest upgrade to the automobile manufacturer’s popular pickup truck, the F-150, has a body that “is 95 percent made of a military grade aluminum alloy used in Humvees and weighs up to 700 pounds less than the current truck.”