Aluminum Use on the Rise
To convert vehicles to aluminum, Ford is estimated to spend $1 billion retooling its facilities in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, said Vince Pavlak, a partner advisory at KPMG, who also spoke during the Wednesday session. Later this year, Ford is coming out with the all-aluminum Super Duty truck.1
Automotive manufacturers are recognizing significant benefits of aluminum construction, and are investing in new infrastructure to support the conversion. The lightweight metal provides vehicles with improved power-to-weight ratios, overall weight reduction, improved fuel economy, and increased payload capacity in trucks. One estimate puts aluminum use at 547 pounds per vehicle by 2025.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries recently hosted a panel on aluminum use in vehicles, highlighting the challenges faced by manufacturers. Panelists discussed “connectivity and digitization, launch/capacity, safety, quality and recall, autonomous vehicles and car-sharing, talent issues, electric vehicles, economic slowdown, margin erosion, rapid changes in electronics, health care and labor, regulations” and other topics.
The issue of capacity dominated the discussion, with members examining a wide range of solutions, including Ford’s closed-loop recycling approach. Ford’s system has reportedly, “saved them a lot of money.”