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Aluminum Extrusions help meet challenges for the Auto Industry
As auto makers maintain their push for improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, aluminum - and aluminum extrusion - continues to make an important contribution. Whether by helping car builders reduce vehicle weight to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicles, or to improve the range of electric vehicles extrusions are an increasing part of the answer. It's estimated that in 2012 the average North American passenger vehicle contained about 27 pounds of aluminum extrusion - with extruded shapes accounting for about 15 pounds of that total (the rest being rod/bar and pipe/tube). In 2020, extruded shapes content should near 35 pounds per vehicle- and it's projected that number should grow to nearly 45 pounds per vehicle by 2025. New vehicles - and new extrusion applications - of the past few years have certainly validated that growth outlook.
Automotive Applications Resources
AEC's Automotive Industry Promotion Team is made up of Council members who are dedicated to supporting and advancing the use of extrusions in automotive applications. Visit the Automotive Technical Resources page to learn more and contact an AEC Automotive Industry Team Member.
Interactive Guide to Automotive Applications
AEC has developed a new interactive resource that can provide a better understanding of how aluminum extrusions are used in today's vehicles. It provides overviews, technical details and case examples of various applications. Follow the link in the image below to learn more.
Some extrusion application high points from the past few years:
2020 has not seen the launch of a new, landmark, extrusion-intensive vehicle, but rather the continued growth of often less-visible applications, along with a few significant innovations.
Iconic British sports car producer Morgan, renown for its timeless design and its ash wood construction introduced its new Plus Four, with a bonded aluminum chassis replacing the steel ladder frame that had been in use for 84 years! For details go here.
© Volkswagen US Media
Closer to the mainstream, VW introduced the 8th generation of their popular GTI. Among the changes: a new aluminum front subframe in place of the prior steel unit, resulting in a 7 pound weight reduction and a more rigid foundation for the steering rack and front suspension. That all contributes to improved steering response.
In a similar vein, Hyundai introduced their latest demo vehicle, the Hyundai RM20e Sports Car. TheRM20e is battery powered and intended to be a test vehicle to generate data for application to other Hyundai models. Based on the Veloster, the RM20e incorporates an extrusion-based front subframe.
The big extrusion story for 2019 was the launch of the long-awaited mid-engine C8 Corvette. While the engine location is a first for Corvette, the aluminum-intensive frame is evolutionary, building on experience gained with special-edition C6 Corvettes and the aluminum structure used in total for the seventh generation.
Forty percent of the Corvette structure is extrusion – mostly 6xxx series alloy. Learn more...
The updated Jeep Wrangler included extrusion in its chassis for the first time, employing an extruded 6061 aluminum alloy cross member.
The extruded component helps reduce critical front-end weight, is corrosion resistant, and can provide the durability that Jeep is known for. This cross-member application is just the latest of several that have showed up in vehicle updates in the last year or so.
And speaking of updates, we can't forget the new extrusion-based Multi-Pro tailgate that was launched on GMC's Sierra SLT and Denali models. The Multi-Pro tailgate offers 6-way functionality, based on an inner panel and a pivoting "flap" which can function as a stopper for an extended load, or a step providing easy access to the bed.
That "flap" is a multi-void hollow aluminum extrusion that incorporates a non-skid surface, provides for the pivot and support mechanisms, and supports a 375 pound person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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