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Auto industry puts vehicles on ‘major diet’ of aluminum

Keywords: Tags  Aluminum Association, Transportation Group, Randall Scheps, Alcoa, EDAG Group, automotive, aluminum vehicles, Michael Cowden

CHICAGO — An all-aluminum vehicle could help trim weight by 40 percent while boosting fuel economy by 18 percent, according to a study commissioned by the Aluminum Association.

In some cases, the switch to aluminum could be done at a "modest" cost increase of about $1 per kilogram (about 45 cents per pound) of weight saved, according to the study conducted by EDAG Group.

"Automakers are putting cars and trucks on a major diet to get better gas mileage and are saying they’re reaching the limits of using advanced steels to lose weight," Randall Scheps, chairman of the association’s transportation group and director of automotive marketing at Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., said in a statement April 16. "This study reinforces that aluminum is the material of choice to reduce body mass and boost fuel economy."

The Aluminum Association contends that automakers are increasingly using aluminum instead of steel and that aluminum-intensive vehicles will become more common thanks to demand for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. The association also says that aluminum use in the automotive sector, already at an all-time high, should double by 2025 over 2008 levels.

Aluminum-intensive vehicles on the road today include Audi AG’s A6, Tesla Motors Inc.’s electric Model S and Jaguar Land Rover Plc’s Range Rover, the first all-aluminum sport utility vehicle, according to the Aluminum Association, which expects more such vehicles to be in showrooms in the next few years.

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