We are on the verge of a major shift in the auto industry. The Aluminum Association boasts aluminum as the fastest, safest and most environmentally friendly way to increase performance and fuel economy in vehicles, without compromising safety or durability. It is estimated that automakers will consume nearly 23M metric tons by the year 2020. That’s a 65% increase from today’s usage.
Paving the way for vehicle bodies made out of aluminum, rather than steel, is the Ford F-150 pickup. This is significant because it shows that for the first time, aluminum is being deployed at mass production. This proves aluminum can be a viable substitute for steel.
We’re also seeing Chevrolet tapping into the aluminum-body trend. In 2014, the Chevy Corvette was redesigned to use an aluminum frame – and it doubled sales. They also have plans to begin using aluminum hoods on their mid-sized pickups, the Colorado and GMC Canyon.
General Motors also plans to decide within the year whether to include aluminum on their Silverado and Sierra pickups. When shifting to aluminum-bodied vehicles, repairs and manufacturing costs seem to be the biggest concerns for GM. At a recent technology conference in Detroit, GM Product Chief Mark Reuss, stated, “I read in Automotive News about the tools required to fix an aluminum truck. I saw those costs. We know it’s expensive.”
Addressing customer concerns is something Pace doesn’t take lightly. Whether the concerns are specific to a part or vehicle in question, we are able to work with automakers to find viable and cost-efficient solutions. Through early supplier involvement, we are able to work early on with engineers on design activities, and develop designs that are easier to cast. This reduces time-to-market and lowers the overall production costs.
In addition to aluminum bodies, automakers are turning to aluminum to meet fuel efficiency requirement. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is using various aluminum components to boast their top-selling Ram as having 25 MPG on the highway. This is the highest of any full-size pickup with the gasoline engine.
The aluminum industry continues to make breakthroughs in technology, and automotive manufacturers are showing a willingness to produce stronger, lighter and environmentally sound vehicles. As more demands are made and better technology is discovered, more and more vehicles will become increasingly aluminum intensive.
We continue to see an upswing in demand for aluminum automotive needs and our recent merger with Port City Division positions Pace at the forefront of this trend. Pace is dedicated to providing our customers with great, cost-saving solutions. Not only are we equipped with the most advanced technology, we understand the need to move nimbly and to quickly alter or adjust plans as needed.
What will be the next wave of aluminum components? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain. As our industry changes, Pace will remain at the forefront to provide the best quality solutions in ways that save our customers money.