As auto makers maintain their push for improved fuel economy, aluminum – and aluminum extrusion – continues to make an important contribution by helping car builders reduce vehicle weight, even while accommodating additional safety, convenience and entertainment content. Ducker Worldwide estimated that in 2014 the average North American passenger vehicle contained about 28 pounds of aluminum extrusion – and projected that number should grow to nearly 50 pounds per vehicle by 2025. New vehicle launches of the past few years have certainly validated that growth outlook.
The above graphic shows just some of the extrusion applications, and alloys, that can be found in today’s production vehicles, as aluminum and extrusion use moves from limited production specialty vehicles into the mainstream.
Learn how aluminum extrusions are applied in automotive lightweighting
Recent high points over the past few years:
Chevrolet introduces the 7th generation Corvette Stingray with standard all-aluminum frame. Comprised of aluminum extrusions and castings , the new frame reduced weight by 45 kg (99 pounds) while providing 60% increased stiffness.
Tesla launches their award-winning Model S. The aluminum-intensive design, featuring extensive use of aluminum sheet along with multiple castings and extrusions (like the roof bow shown at right) yields a body-in-white weighing 25% less than a key segment competitor. Aluminum extrusions also find application in the battery box, rear suspension and side impact system.
Ford launches the aluminum-intensive F150, the highest volume North American vehicle and the highest volume aluminum-intensive application. Roughly 50 pounds of automotive aluminum extrusions are used in the front end and roof structure. With a body in white (crew cab and bed) at 400 pounds lighter than conventional competitors, the F-150 offers Increased load capacity and improved economy.
Cadillac introduces their aluminum-intensive CT6, designed to compete with Germany’s high performance luxury sedans. Aluminum extrusions are found throughout the structure, and include multi-hollow rocker and engine cradle components. The result is a weight savings of over 200 pounds vs. high-strength steels and a body in white lighter, yet stiffer than the BMW 5 series.
Acura launches their next-gen NSX supercar, while Ford extends the aluminum architecture that debuted in the F-150 to its Super Duty F-250, 350 and 450 trucks and the next generation Expedition SUV.
The NSX features a multi-material space frame (below left), with extensive use of aluminum extrusions. Extrusions are used for the front and rear frame rails, side rails, numerous cross members and frame members for the front and rear bulkheads, as well as for the Instrument Panel (IP) structure.
Extending the F-150’s aluminum architecture to the ’18 Expedition (below right) yields a 300 pound weight reduction, along with increased interior space and towing capacity.
Automotive Applications Resources
AEC has a team of members dedicated to the effective use of extrusions in automotive applications. Click here for information on the technical resources they provide.