Aluminium consumption in the automotive sector has been drastically increasing over the past years, because of needs to offer lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Steel has traditionally been the most important material used for car manufacturing. Indeed, it accounted on average for more than 1,000 kg of a vehicle in 2007, which represents around 60 percent of the car’s total weight. Besides, the automotive industry accounts for as much as around 12 percent of the global steel consumption. Nevertheless, the trend is changing as aluminium has become an increasingly popular component in the automotive sector. Consequently, the average aluminium usage per car increased from 50 kg in 1990 to 140 kg in 2012.
At the center of this shift lies the need for cars manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This growing concern is resulting from two main sources. Firstly, governments’ regulations in terms of gas consumption have significantly increased, especially in the USA and Europe. As an illustration, the EU is ambitiously aiming at decreasing the average carbon dioxide emission per vehicle from 130 grams per kilometer in 2015 to 95 grams per kilometer by the year 2021. Another reason explaining the need to reduce a car’s weight has been the increasing wish for customers to consume less, for ecological and economical purposes. This has been shown by a KPMG study, which found that fuel efficiency was the most important variable to consider for 92 percent of the customers.
Therefore, aluminium has been seen as a promising solution to this fuel-consumption issue, mainly thanks to its light weight. Indeed, adopting an aluminium structure enables today’s leading firms to drastically decrease the weight of their new series, which will in turn reduce the full consumption. As an illustration, decreasing a vehicle’s weight by 10 percent will lead to a consumption reduction usually standing between 5 and 7 percent. Concretely, Range Rover has recently provided a striking example with the Sports SRV, its first SUV integrating an all-aluminium monocoque. This new structure has enabled the British car manufacturer to decrease its weight by 420 kg compared to its steel counterpart, which represents 39 percent of the total weight.
Even though aluminium consumption in the automotive market is likely to keep on growing, it cannot be considered as a perfect substitute steel in the industry. The main reason is that aluminium is a much more costly metal, explaining why it is mainly used in the high-end sports and luxury segments at the moment. In other words, a trade-off between cost and fuel-efficiency is currently occurring, with the latter being an increasing concern in the industry.
Both steel an aluminium possess different characteristics and are key components of the car as well as a multitude of other industries. Such metals can be discovered under various forms at Shanghai Metal Corporation, one of the leading businesses in the manufacturing of metalworking industry. We can produce and export the best quality of aluminum, steel and other metal products, keeping an eye on manufacturing efficiency and environmental sustainability.
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