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Multi-material vehicle construction, onslaught of electrified powertrains and battery electric vehicle platforms drive aluminum’s increased market penetration
A new survey released today confirms aluminum, already the fastest growing automotive material, is expected to grow to content levels of 514 pounds per vehicle (PPV) by 2026, up 12% from 2020 levels. The survey, conducted by DuckerFrontier, analyzes the latest information on material content for North American light vehicles from the full automotive value chain, including automakers and their suppliers, and credits aluminum content penetration increases to its growing use in vehicle closure parts, body-in-white parts and chassis applications in traditional vehicles, as well as growth of electrified powertrain and battery electric vehicle (BEV) platforms.
“As consumer pressures and environmental challenges increase—so too does the use of automotive aluminum. This demand is accelerating as low weight, high-strength aluminum is helping automakers adapt to new mobility trends, and we’re bullish on the growth potential of the metal in the fast-emerging electric vehicle segment,” said Ganesh Panneer, chair of the Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG) and vice president and general manager for automotive North America at Novelis. “Automotive aluminum market penetration enjoyed year over year growth the past five decades and that expansion is expected to continue as far down the road as can be projected today. As electric vehicles become more widely available, greater aluminum use to extend range and help offset battery weight and cost will ensure consumers will still be able to choose high performing cars and trucks that are safe, fun to drive and better for the protection of the environment.”
Automakers will continue to increase the use of aluminum in new vehicles as the design evolution to multi-material cars, trucks and SUVs continues. According to the 2020 DuckerFrontier “North American Light Vehicle Aluminum Content and Outlook” report, aluminum flat rolled sheet remains a key solution to replace heavier steels and help automakers achieve mass reduction goals. Doors represent the single highest net growth application of aluminum content per vehicle with penetration reaching 30% by 2026. Also, by 2026, aluminum hood penetration is expected to reach 81% and liftgates/tailgates reaching 44%. By 2030, total aluminum content is estimated to reach 570 PPV, a 24% increase over the next decade.
As electrification grows, the analysis confirms demand for aluminum extrusions and high-pressure aluminum diecast parts will grow due to increased use in applications like battery housings, motor housings and body structural components. Aluminum also continues to drive vehicle safety, with extrusions for crash management system (CMS) applications projected to increase 10% from 2016-2022.
“The aluminum industry is keeping its foot on the pedal, developing solutions aimed squarely at addressing automakers most pressing needs to offset mass given added content and weight from new features, additional safety needs, and the move to electrification. Aluminum will record relentless year-over-year growth through 2030,” said Abey Abraham, managing director, DuckerFrontier
Automakers continue to favor aluminum in an ever-changing industry climate as demonstrated by recent product launches, including the Ford Bronco and Jeep Gladiator, which both feature intensive use of aluminum closures and structural components. As the automotive aluminum sector thrives it remains vital to the nation’s manufacturing base and a healthy U.S. economy. The aluminum industry invested or committed more than $3 billion to ensure increased automotive capacity in the U.S. since 2013, and the industry is prepared to continue such investments in domestic manufacturing jobs as demand continues to grow.