Aluminum Use In Vehicles Growing At 'Unprecedented' Rate -

Aluminum Use In Vehicles Growing At ‘Unprecedented’ Rate

For the second year in a row, aluminum shipments for use in passenger vehicles hit a record level, as producers in 2016 shipped 5.9 billion pounds of aluminum to automakers in North America.


Demand for aluminum in vehicle production is surging. For the second year in a row, aluminum shipments for use in passenger vehicles hit a record level, as producers in 2016 shipped 5.9 billion pounds of aluminum to automakers in North America.

Those numbers from the Aluminum Association are part of a long-term trend. The aluminum content in North American light vehicles has risen steadily from 84 net pounds per vehicle in 1975 to 397 pounds in 2015.

From 2015 to 2025, the aluminum content in North American vehicles will grow at a clip of 12 pounds per year – to 520 pounds of aluminum per vehicle, according to a Ducker Worldwide survey of the automakers. By 2028, that number is expected to jump to 565 pounds of aluminum per vehicle.

“That is the highest growth rate of aluminum in automotive applications in the history of the automobile,” Kaiser Aluminum executive Doug Richman said during a presentation at the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit in Las Vegas. “It’s unprecedented.”

Much of that growth will come from closures, Richman explained.

Today, about 44 percent of North American vehicles have aluminum hoods; by 2028, nine in 10 vehicles will have them.

Aluminum content in doors is expected to quadruple.

“Almost every OEM that we work with has an all-aluminum door or a majority-aluminum door in development today, and many of the Tier 1 suppliers have their own designs that they’re proposing,” said Richman, who also is chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Technical Committee.

Over the next decade or so, the percentage of aluminum fenders in the North American production fleet is expected to quadruple – from 10 percent to 44 percent – as is the percentage of aluminum tailgates in the production fleet.

Aluminum content will increase in the vehicle structure as well. By 2028, about 25 percent of the North American production fleet will have a multi-material body-in-white, according to the Ducker survey. With the exception of the Ford F-150’s all-aluminum body-in-white, “the multi-material vehicle is the future,” Richman asserted.

“I can assure you that every single one of the programs my organization is working on is a multi-material body-in-white,” Richman said. “Steel, aluminum and to some degree magnesium and composites are being deployed.”

For collision repairers, that could present some challenges, as “you have no idea what the real underlying material is,” Richman said.

“Always go to the OEM’s specifications, and do not get creative,” Richman recommended. “Do what they say.”

Aluminum is playing a major role in the OEMs’ ongoing push to make vehicles lighter, which is part of their effort to meet the corporate average fuel-economy (CAFE) regulations.


While aluminum’s share of vehicle curb weight is expected to climb to 16 percent by 2028, average vehicle mass is projected to drop from 3,835 pounds in 2015 to 3,565 pounds by 2025. According to the Ducker study, over 50 percent of that mass reduction will come from increased use of aluminum.

However, Richman asserted that lightweighting is only part of the aluminum story. He noted that the OEMs are finding that aluminum provides a number of positive “critical-to-customer attributes” such as improved safety, braking, handling and ride.

“We’re now in a period where program plans and capacity expansions are being put in place to support 12 pounds per year of annual [aluminum] growth,” he concluded. “For my industry, that equates to about 3 or 4 billion pounds of capacity, and that equates to over $10 billion of investment in sheet capacity. So this is a major growth spurt for the industry.”

Article courtesy BodyShop Business.

You May Also Like

Standard Motor Products Launches 365 New Numbers

The new release includes parts for import and domestic vehicles with gasoline, hybrid, and electric powertrains.

Standard Motor Products (SMP) has introduced 365 new part numbers in its October new number announcement (NNA). Included in the release is new coverage for more than 107 product categories, and 110 part numbers for 2021 and 2022 model-year vehicles.

SMP says its commitment to providing replacement parts for hybrid and electric vehicles through its Standard and Four Seasons brands is evident in this release. The October NNA added new part numbers for the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, 2017-’11 Nissan Leaf, 2022-’10 Toyota Prius and more. The addition of more than 130 new Sensors, Switches, Actuators and Connectors also expands Standard’s powertrain-neutral coverage.

WIN Launches 2023 Sponsorship Program

WIN says the campaign is vital to its mission to attract, retain and advance women in collision repair industry.

Autoshop Solutions Supports Techforce Champion Campaign

Autoshop Solutions’ customers and friends are receiving a special offer to be come a TechForce Champion.

Women in Auto Care Scholarship Program Makes $1M Milestone

This was another record year for the program, distributing 96 awards worth $300,000 in both cash scholarships and starter tool sets.

Wyotech Works On Drawing Women To The Trades

Three WyoTech students were recipients of the JCF scholarship, which empowers young women to pursue careers in trades.

Other Posts

Bosch Releases 133 Automotive Aftermarket Parts YTD 2022

Bosch says these new products cover more than 34 million vehicles in operation across North America.

Standard Motor Products Grows Ignition Coil Program

Additions to the program include more than 800 coils providing 99% coverage for import and domestic vehicles.

ASE Summer Testing Period Registration Ends Sept. 30

Those service professionals who register will have 90 days to schedule an appointment to take the selected ASE tests.

ALI Expands Safety Manual and Offers New Digital Option

Updated manual includes new information, photos and illustrations in a user-friendly format.