Alcan is supplying aluminium bumpers to Mercedes-Benz for the second generation A-class compact hatchback, due in European dealerships this autumn. The bumpers are produced at Alcan's dedicated automotive structures plant in Gottmadingen, Germany.

Alcan's bumper system "improves crash energy management thanks to aluminium's superior energy absorption, and it improves vehicle performance by reducing weight," a spokesman said.

The system consists of an extruded aluminium beam attached to the vehicle structure by Alcan's patented 'crash boxes'. To meet the tight packaging requirements of the compact mdel, the bumper beam is made of a low profile, twin-chambered aluminium extrusion. The crash boxes attach directly to the vehicle structure without the need for mounting plates, further contributing to the low weight of this cost effective approach.

The complete front bumper module, along with the headlamp mounts and the radiator support, forms a sturdy front-end assembly that can absorb all of the crash energy in collisions up to 15 km/h (9mph) and protects the engine and longitudinal member against damage. The bumper system is bolted to the structure, making repair and replacement easier and quicker than with traditional welded assemblies.

To improve pedestrian safety, a foam block sits in front of the beam and reduces the risk of injury in very low-speed accidents.