According to a study commissioned by the Aluminum Association, 75 percent of all U.S. pickup trucks will have aluminum bodies by 2025.
The study, predicts that aluminum production will grow steadily over a 50 year period, with Detroit automakers leading the way as the biggest users of aluminum sheet.
All eyes are on Ford as it prepares it's aluminum F-150, set to arrive later this year. General Motors and Chrysler are expected to follow soon after. While GM and Chrysler have not gone on record stating that they plan to use aluminum, if Ford is successful, and by all appearances they will be, the others will quickly follow suit. Ford expects to sell 650,000 aluminum F-150s per year in the highly competitive pickup truck segment.
By 2025, automakers must double their fleet's average fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg. Despite it's higher cost, the use of aluminum lightens a vehicle's weight, which in turn increases fuel economy significantly. By switching to aluminum, Ford was able to shave 700 lbs off the weight of the F-150, and an improvement of fuel economy in the 10 to 12 percent range. It is expected to get about 26 mpg on the highway, and the EcoBoost model should reach 28 mpg.
"Consumers won’t visibly notice a different metal under the paint, but they’ll see greater savings at the gas pump and experience better performance and handling behind the wheel," Tom Boney, general manager of automotive for aluminum producer Novelis North America, told Reuters.
Rumours suggest that General Motors will announce it's decision to use aluminum bodies in the next generation of Silverado and Sierra trucks to be announced during the next year. These trucks are expected to arrive around 2018. Chrysler has hinted that we may see an aluminum body on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler SUV.
There have been other indications of automakers switching to aluminum. Two major aluminum producers, Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. have announced their plans to increase their production capacity. It was reported a few months ago that GM had signed contracts with both companies.
Other vehicles are already using stamped aluminum body parts such as hoods, doors and trunks. Demand for these light vehicle body parts is expected to grow from 200 million pounds in 2012 to 4 billion pounds by 2025.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca