Fuel efficiency is on everyone’s mind these days. For consumers, that stems from the price at the gas pump, but for auto manufacturers, the guidelines proposed by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards have engineers and scientists thinking forward. While a wide range of design and manufacturing options can impact fuel efficiency, car manufacturers are looking at replacing steel body frames and doors with aluminum.
Alcoa’s Randall Scheps recently spoke at the American Metal Market’s Aluminum Summit, noting that the auto industry’s aluminum demand was trending up — way up. “We have every car maker calling us, wanting to increase their aluminum content, wanting to start new R&D (research and development) projects about how they can convert bodies from steel to aluminum, wanting to convert hoods and doors from steel to aluminum.”
The CAFE goal is 54.5 MPG by 2025. Is that doable? As Scheps puts it, “It’s an unprecedented time in the aluminum industry, and car bodies are the next frontier.”