2018 Vehicle of the Year Awards Include Aluminum Extrusion
As automakers continue to reduce vehicle mass to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, they are looking to a multi-material mix as a lightweighting solution. As a result, more aluminum is being utilized and extrusion is part of that equation; per-vehicle usage of extruded shapes has increased 40% over the past four years, and is expected to grow another 35% by 2022.
When the North American Car, Utility Vehicle and Truck of the Year Awards were announced at the recent 2018 North American International Auto Show, the use of aluminum, and aluminum extrusions, was a common theme.
Lincoln’s updated Navigator was named 2018 North American Truck of the Year, the new Honda Accord received Car of the Year honors and Volvo’s new XC60 took the Utility of the Year title.
The new Lincoln (and its sister, Ford’s Expedition) is based on the aluminum-intensive architecture that Ford debuted with the 2015 F-150. As does the F-150, the Navigator features an aluminum sheet body and extensive use of extrusions in the front and roof structure, riding on a high-strength steel frame. The result is a 200 pound weight decline versus the prior model, despite a slightly larger size.
And, consumers cannot get enough of the full-size SUV. According to a recent report on CNBC, Ford is selling the high-end Lincoln Navigator so fast it is having trouble keeping up with demand. The second-largest U.S. automaker has only been rolling out the 2018 Navigator to dealerships since the end of November, but Ford is already straining to produce enough vehicles, executives said on a recent conference call.
Navigator sales were up 97.5 percent over the same month in 2017, even though Ford's overall sales dropped 6.6 percent, and total Lincoln SUV sales fell almost 20 percent.
"We could have sold a lot more in January if we had had them," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
Aluminum is an important contributor to the new, 10th generation, Accord as well. The Accord features a new aluminum-intensive chassis, control arms and subframe, which helps lighten the Accord by 110 – 176 pounds, depending on the model. In addition, the new aluminum suspension set-up “better isolates and manages varying road inputs, improving handling precision, ride quality and cabin quietness along with outstanding high-speed stability and control,” according to the company.
And, while Volvo’s XC60 makes extensive use of advanced high strength steels, aluminum extrusions comprise the crash management system of this safety leader.
Chosen from dozens of new vehicles, finalists were chosen based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
Now in their 24th year, the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards are among the most prestigious in the industry because they are awarded by a panel of more than 60 respected automotive journals instead of being given by a single publication, website, radio or television station.