A recent study from Ducker Worldwide predicts that by 2025, every major manufacturer will offer multiple aluminum-bodied vehicles. As a result, demand for aluminum body sheeting will grow from less than 200 million pounds in 2012 to almost 4 billion pounds over the next ten years.
With the all-new Ford F-150 cutting 700 pounds of weight by switching to an aluminum body, the conversation surrounding the future of aluminum in automotive manufacturing has heated up. The new Ford F-150 is over 25 percent aluminum by weight, totaling over 1000 lbs of the strong, lightweight material. Next year, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla will be among the industry leaders in average aluminum share of curb weight, as total North American light vehicle aluminum use will grow 28 percent compared to that of 2012.
By 2025, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are expected to be hot on Ford’s tail in aluminum consumption for its vehicles. With rumors already swirling that the Chevrolet Silverado will incorporate more aluminum beginning in 2018, it’s not surprising to see that the study predicts more than 75 percent of pickup truck body parts will be made from the material. By comparison, smaller vehicles reportedly won't adopt as much of the lightweight material: large E-segment sedans, SUVs, and minivans will contain 24 percent, 22 percent, and 18 percent aluminum, respectively. Across the board, light vehicles body parts in 2025 are projected to be 26.6 percent aluminum by volume.
The increased use of aluminum body construction is predicted to cut an average of 175 pounds per vehicle by 2025. Although aluminum penetration has been steadily growing over the last forty years, the study anticipates that demand will reach a “critical mass” in 2015 and kick-start an explosive period of growth over course of the following decade.
Concerns about the long-term expense of ownership of aluminum-bodied vehicles would presumably dwindle as aluminum use becomes more and more widespread. We’ll have to see how successful the new Ford F-150 is over the next few years, and see whether consumers experience a noticeable difference in fuel savings and handling to make up for potentially pricier repairs in the short-term.