The cars of today are not like those of years past. Some may remember the bulky cars of the sixties and seventies; these cars were significantly heavier and had much stronger bodies than today's average car. But due to the focus on climate change, and the increasing desire to limit dependency on oil, many auto manufacturers have modernized the designs of cars to be much sleeker and lighter.
Aluminum Manufacturing & the Auto Industry
When it comes to cars, lighter does not necessarily mean smaller. That is in part due to the significant advances in metal alloys, in particular the increasing use of aluminum in the manufacturing of automobiles! It should not come as a surprise that aluminum is fast becoming the metal of choice in vehicles.
Companies like Tesla are making several models such as the Model S and Model X with aluminum Chassis. The metal is light, durable and through the process of aluminum extrusion, can be very strong! In fact, it is the metal that planes are made of, so using it in cars is only a matter of cost.
Increasingly auto companies are relying on aluminum manufacturers in Canada and the USA to provide them with the aluminum metal alloys they need. Aluminum manufacturer Signaturealum.com is one of those companies. Based in Canada, they work with auto companies across North America to fill the need for this light yet strong metal.
Electrification of Vehicles
The use of manufactured aluminum in modern cars is driven by a desire to increase fuel economy, and a big drive behind this is due to the electrification of the automobile. Companies such as GM, Ford and most other car manufacturers already have or are introducing all-electric vehicles in an attempt to catch up with market leader Tesla. These companies know that in order to improve the range of the battery, they need to decrease the weight of the automobile. Using aluminum instead of steel is one of the best ways of doing this. For that reason, we see an increase in demand for extruded aluminum products, especially in relation to the demand coming from the auto sector.
For every pound of aluminum that replaces steel in the body of a car, it is expected that a pound of weight will be saved in the overall weight of the vehicle! That can translate into tremendous savings in fuel efficiency and battery life. Batteries are expensive, so if the range of the vehicle can be extended by means other than an increase to the battery, that is a net saving to the manufacturer! Moreover, as companies compete for the longest range vehicle, it is easy to see why it's become the most popular metal - next only to steel - in the body of a modern car! Having a lighter car means longer battery range, and that is a direct competitive advantage to the car company.
Extrusion of Aluminum Alloys
The use of aluminum alloys of varying strength within cars is common. However, there are new types of extruded aluminum alloys such as the 8-mm sheet that covers the entire battery compartment in Tesla cars. This sheet guarantees that in case of a high speed collision, the battery is protected - a very important safety feature! And it is made possible because of the advances in the types of manufacturing of aluminum alloys.
Aluminum is alloyed with many different types of elements such as manganese, copper, iron and copper to produce alloys of varying strength and specifications that can have many uses in the body of a modern car!