New Study Shows Aluminum Superior to Steel in Shedding Vehicle Body Mass,
Boosting Fuel Economy
Industry Reveals Results of New Vehicle Design Study at 2013 SAE World
SAE 2013 World Congress
DETROIT -- April 16, 2013
A new study released today shows that an all-aluminum vehicle can shed more
than 40 percent body mass, boosting fuel economy by 18 percent when combined
with secondary mass savings and other design changes. The study helps explain
why car and truck makers are shifting away from steel to aluminum, and
supports projections that aluminum-intensive vehicles will become more common
in the marketplace with continued demand for more fuel efficient vehicles.
The research, conducted by EDAG Group and commissioned by the Aluminum in
Transportation Group of the U.S. Aluminum Association, was presented today at
the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress during a panel
discussion on advances in lower weight materials. It comes at a time when
automotive aluminum use is at an all-time high, with automakers announcing
plans to incorporate more of the metal into vehicle designs – doubling
aluminum’s 2008 share of the automotive metals mix by 2025.
“Automakers are putting cars and trucks on a major diet to get better gas
mileage, and are saying they’re reaching the limits of using advanced steels
to lose weight,” said Randall Scheps, chairman of The Aluminum Association’s
Transportation Group (ATG) and automotive marketing director for Alcoa, Inc.
“This study reinforces that aluminum is the material of choice to reduce body
mass and boost fuel economy – which consumers list as their primary concern
when buying a new car or truck –while providing the safety, performance and
durability that consumers also demand.”
The study built upon research EDAG performed last year for the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) examining mass reduction, safety and cost variables in
a mid-size crossover Toyota Venza. The EPA study aimed to reduce vehicle mass
by 20 percent while meeting all NHTSA and IIHS safety standards, and
maintaining or improving performance, handling and braking. It found that
using a maximized high-strength steel (HSS) Venza body resulted in a body mass
reduction of only 14 percent over the baseline production vehicle body, and
that the study’s total vehicle mass reduction target could not be met without
the use of aluminum closures and chassis components.
The new EDAG research uses a full aluminum body and closures to achieve almost
three times the body mass reduction over the EPA study’s HSS vehicle, while
still conforming to the same stringent safety and performance standards. This
was done at a modest cost increase – about a dollar per kilogram of weight
saved – which consumers will recoup in fuel savings in less than two years of
operating the more efficient vehicle.
Aluminum is critical to a holistic approach in achieving higher fuel economy
targets. Aluminum intensive vehicles – like Audi’s A6, the Tesla Model S, and
Land Rover’s Range Rover, the first all-aluminum SUV – are already on the road
today, with more expected to be in showrooms in the next few years.
For more technical detail on the EDAG aluminum study, please join us for a
free webinar on Thursday, May 2. For details and to register, visit
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/977421945. For more facts and research
about how aluminum builds a better vehicle, visit www.drivealuminum.org, and
follow us on Twitter @DriveAluminum.
About the Aluminum Association
Through its Aluminum Transportation Group, 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., Kaiser Aluminum Corporation and
For the Aluminum Transportation Group
Jenny Rios, 703-598-2070
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