The average aluminium (also known as aluminum in the US) content in 2002 model
year cars and light trucks will increase to 268 pounds per vehicles on average
from 255 pounds just last year, according to a report from American Metal Market
(AMM), a metal trades journal.
Both domestic and import automakers are using more aluminium to improve fuel
economy, reduce emissions and enhance vehicle performance. While casting alloys
make up much of the gain, AMM reports that sheet, extrusion and forging alloys
are gaining acceptance in the automotive marketplace.
"As automakers gain experience designing parts for aluminium, rather than
just from aluminium, even more of the performance advantages inherent in the
material will be unlocked. As consumers demand increasing vehicle content that
adds weight, aluminium will help compensate by maintaining or even reducing
vehicle mass,” said Dr. Richard Klimisch, vice president of The Aluminum Association.
"Engineers know that aggressive weight reduction is the best way to improve
fuel economy, emissions and performance. For these reasons, as well as improved
corrosion resistance and recyclability, automakers are more and more turning
to performance aluminium,” Klimisch added.
Automakers have known for years that aluminium improves vehicle performance,
but they’ve mostly applied it to specialty vehicles. Examples include the Panoz
Esperante, Acura NSX, Audi‘s flagship A8 and S8 luxury sports sedans and the
civilian version of GM’s HUMMER.
But in recent years, aluminium has made impressive gains in high volume vehicles.
According to AMM, some of the new aluminium production parts for 2002 are:
- The standard wheels; dual-piston, front-brake calipers; suspension system
control arms and uprights; and power steering rack housings and pinions on
Ford’s new Thunderbird.
- Front and rear bumper reinforcements on Toyota‘s Highlander SUV.
- The liftgates, radiator enclosures, wheels and front differential cases
on the Cadillac Escalade.
- Hoods and front fenders on Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.
- Automatic transmission cooler cases for the Corvette, plus front stabilizer
bar links in the Z06 model.
- Aluminium-intensive, four-wheel independent suspensions in the Cadillac
- Rear crossmembers, control arms, knuckles, driveshafts and axle housings
in the four-wheel-drive version of the Buick Rendezvous.
- Aluminium-intensive, heavy-duty automatic Allison transmissions for use
in large pick-up and service trucks.
- Radiator enclosures, front differential cases and wheels on the Chevy Avalanche.
- Chrysler‘s new 3.7 liter, V-6 engines, which will be used in the Jeep Liberty,
have aluminium cylinder heads, front covers, water pumps, alternator cases
and various brackets.
- Extended versions of GM’s midsize SUVs will be available with all- aluminium
Vortec V-8 engines.