As the quest for fuel efficiency goes on, automakers have looked into different metals that can be used to build lighter and more sustainable cars, focusing on aluminum as an option. Aluminum is a sturdy, light metal that has been used within the automobile industry for close to 40 years, with a rising popularity as safety regulations are advancing.
Aluminum products in cars and trucks averaged 397 lbs (180 kg) per vehicle in 2015, a figure that is expected to rise by 40%, to 585 lb (256 kg) per vehicle by 2028. This is largely because aluminum is significantly lighter than steel and absorbs twice the crash energy of mild steel, while retaining a slightly lower overall rigidity and strength than its heavier counterpart. This is crucial, as decreasing a vehicle’s weight by 10% increases its fuel efficiency by 7% on average, without compromising any of its safety features.
With carbon fiber and titanium fetching much higher prices and their own set of problems, aluminum has also been a hit among industries such as budget sports cars, as decreasing weight dramatically increases acceleration and handling ability, allowing for the production of a better product in a very simple and cost effective way.
Aluminum is mostly used in the production of hoods, trunks, and doors of cars, as integrating this light weight metal is easiest in these applications. We will hopefully be able to see aluminum in more parts of vehicles such as the chassis and the overall body of cars, for which rigidity and strength are still the dominant factors.
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