Sumitomo Electric Industries is almost set to commence sales of aluminium-based wiring harnesses which are cheaper in comparison to conventional copper-based products and will help the company compete with market leader Yazaki Corporation as automakers seek lighter parts.

Aluminium may reduce wiring weight by about 20% helping automakers produce lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, senior managing director Mitsuo Nishida told Bloomberg.

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“We’re near the point where the quality is high enough and we can make final safety checks,” Nishida said.

The material is strong enough to be used in the engine area of a car and is lighter than the commonly used copper wiring, he added.

Sumitomo Electric supplied aluminium wiring to Toyota in 2010 for the Ractis subcompact but it could be used only in limited areas of the vehicle as the looms were not resistant enough to heat and vibration.

“This is a technological breakthrough and the impact should be big,” Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at consulting company Carnorama said. “Carmakers are eager to reduce a car’s weight even by a single gram.”

Furukawa Electric applied a “tentative version” of aluminium wiring for Toyota’s Land Cruiser in 2012, company spokesman Kenichi Nakano told Bloomberg. Nakano added that the company is working on stronger aluminium wiring by combining the metal with carbon fibre and intends to pitch this to carmakers by 2014.