Sapa Sees Aluminum-Sales `Bump' in Bid to Make Cars Lighter

Sapa AS, the maker of aluminum products, expects a “significant bump” in sales to automotive companies in North America as more of the metal is used in passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

With all-aluminum-bodied products such as new electric car lines and increased adoption of aluminum by Ford Motor Co. in its F-Series pickup trucks, “auto is a huge growth market for us,” Charlie Straface, the Oslo-based company’s North American business area president, said in an interview.

Car and truck makers are turning to aluminum to reduce vehicle weights and boost fuel efficiency ahead of stricter U.S. emissions rules. Sales to automotive customers represent 10 to 15 percent of Sapa’s North American portfolio, according to Straface. Light-vehicle output in the region is projected to grow to a record this year, IHS Automotive said in an e-mail. 

Ford is expanding its use of aluminum to include 2017 Super Duty trucks after the company employed the material as part of efforts that shaved as much as 700 pounds from the best-selling F-150. More of the metal is also being used in Sapa’s largest market, commercial transportation, where shaped aluminum rails help streamline truck-trailer assembly and protect the vehicles when they’re being loaded, Straface said.

Aluminum for delivery in three months rose 0.9 percent to settle at $1,482 a metric ton at 5:52 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. The price has slumped 21 percent in the past 12 months.

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