NEW YORK Automotive
aluminum sheet suppliers are gearing up for an increase in
demand as the trend toward vehicle lightweighting gathers
steam, with Ford Motor Co. reportedly planning to build future
versions of its F-150 pickup with a predominantly aluminum
According to the Wall Street
Journal, future versions of the F-150 truck will be made
with an aluminum body to reduce the overall weight of the
vehicle by 700 pounds, though Ford declined to confirm the plan
when contacted by AMM.
"Were constantly looking
at ways to improve trucks and cars in ways that improve fuel
efficiency, but it would be premature to discuss a solution we
might use for a future product," a Ford spokesman told
AMM. "Were already a leader in aluminum use in
full-size pickups. The hood of the F-150 has been manufactured
from aluminum since 2004."
Aluminum suppliers have made no
secret of their intention to capture a greater share of the
auto market, with a report last year from Ducker Worldwide LLC
predicting that the average aluminum content in vehicles will
increase by nearly 70 percent by 2025 (
amm.com, Nov. 22).
One spokesman for an aluminum
supplier to Ford and other auto manufacturers added that his
company is increasing auto sheet capacity to better position
itself for increased demand.
"The big growth in automotive
aluminum will be in sheet as they turn to aluminum for
structures and body panels," he said. "For us today, it
represents only 7 percent of our business, but its the
most rapidly growing sector."
Randall Schepps, Alcoa
Inc.s director of automotive marketing, recently
described car bodies as "the next frontier" for automotive
aluminum suppliers at AMMs 2nd Annual Aluminum
Summit in New York last month (
amm.com, June 14).
Alcoa announced a $300-million
expansion at its Davenport, Iowa, facility aimed at enhancing
the sites aluminum sheet production in March (
amm.com, March 5), while Novelis Inc. has pointed
to increasing demand for automotive sheet with a $200-million
upgrade of its Oswego, N.Y., facility. A Novelis spokesman said
the upgrade would boost the sites sheet production
capacity from 40,000 tonnes per year to 240,000 tonnes.