NEW YORK Toyota Motor Corp. will dramatically expand the use of aluminum body panels and structures in its 2018 Camry, a major step in a global shift toward increased aluminum usage in cars and trucks.
Sources familiar with the matter told AMM that Toyota has already launched an aluminum-intensive design program for the Camry and is actively looking to establish automotive aluminum infrastructure in North America.
"The program is going to support the Camry which launches in 2018," one source said. "It is more than just increased utilizationits an aluminum-intense design, similar to that of the Ford (Motor Co.) F-150."
Aluminum sheet is used for the hood and roof on current Camry models, the source said, but starting in 2018 a large majority of the body panels, including the doors and trunk, will be made out of lightweight aluminum alloy.
The move is designed to help the Tokyo-based automaker adhere to corporate average fuel economy requirements, which were implemented to reduce energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks, a second source said.
Multiple sources confirmed that a proposed joint venture between Japanese firms Kobe Steel Ltd. and Toyota Tsusho Corp. to produce automotive aluminum sheet in the United States was the first step in the Camrys four-year transition to aluminum (amm.com, May 27).
Dearborn, Mich.-based Fords shift to aluminum in its 2015 F-150 pickup prompted executives at Toyota to take a close look at aluminum usage in the Camry, the second source said.
Industry insiders called Fords decision a game changer for the aluminum industryone that would spur increased aluminum usage across all sectors of the automotive industry (amm.com, Feb. 10).
A spokesman for Toyotas North America operations did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Camry has been the best-selling car in America for 11 of the past 12 years, according to Toyotas website.