AUTOMOTIVE ALUMINUM The obsession with lightweighting ensures a ticket to ride

Dec 01, 2007 | 01:18 PM |

Aluminum producers are bullish on the automotive sector as the drive toward "lightweighting" continues to pick up speed.

"We have more automotive programs and developments going on now than ever before," said Lloyd A. "Buddy" Stemple, vice president and general manager of Atlanta-based Novelis Inc.'s North American Specialty Products Group.

Indeed, automakers are so enamored with aluminum that Novelis likely will have to expand to keep pace with demand. "With the current rate of product development, we will need to add capacity to keep up with the lightweighting needs of our customers," Stemple said. "You just have to look at the number of programs announced in the last 12 months." From supplying hood sheet for the GMC Acacia, BMW X5 and Cadillac STS to being chosen as the lead supplier of sheet for the stunning new Audi R8, 2007 has been a banner year for Novelis automotive operations.

Novelis' automotive demand growth in aluminum is coming in areas like automotive structure and body panels, although the company also supplies a significant amount of aluminum components for heat exchangers. The growing use of aluminum is being driven by several factors, according to Stemple. "It's a solution for fuel economy, safety and environmental issues," he said.....

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