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Aluminum-Sheet Use in Autos Seen Climbing Five-Fold

Global aluminum-sheet use in auto bodies will climb five-fold by 2020 as car manufacturers seek lightweight material to improve fuel economy, said Derek Prichett, a vice president of global recycling at Novelis Inc.

Sheet consumption will jump to 1.8 million metric tons from 350,000 tons currently, Prichett said in an interview in Chicago yesterday. Atlanta-based Novelis counts Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit and the Jaguar Land Rover division of Tata Motors Ltd. as customers, according to its website.

A push in the U.S. and Europe to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and increase mileage is prompting carmakers to seek to replace heavier materials such as steel. Ford begins production of an all-aluminum bodied F-150 pickup truck this year, and other car and truck manufacturers will follow suit, switching to aluminum over the next six years, Jack Clark, a senior vice president at Novelis, said in the same interview.

Aluminum content in light vehicles around the world, including bodies, hoods and doors, will rise to near 35 billion pounds by 2025, making the auto industry a “major” market for aluminum, Clark said.

Demand for the metal in North America will exceed production by 1.255 million metric tons in 2015, up from an estimated 1.13 million tons this year, partly because of increased shipments to the region’s auto industry, Jorge Vazquez, the managing director at researcher Harbor Aluminum Intelligence Unit LLC, said at a conference in Chicago yesterday.

Tighter Supply

The metal has risen 5.6 percent this year on the London Metal Exchange as supply tightens amid rising consumption and production cuts. The contract for delivery in three months fell 0.5 percent to $1,900.50 a ton on the LME yesterday.

Prices may near $2,000 a ton by mid-2015 after the market tips into a deficit in the second half of 2014, BNP Paribas SA said in a report May 8.

The trend in North America may spread to Japan, helping revive consumption of the metal in the transport sector, Takuki Murayama, the executive director of the Japan Aluminium Association, said in an interview in Chicago June 9.

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