After starting out 2014 with a bang, peaking at a value of 104, MetalMiner’s monthly Automotive MMI® made its way back up to a value of 97 in June, an increase of 2.1 percent from 95 in May – the first increase since January of this year.
While the increase is good news for the automotive sector, the bigger story going on in cars is actually the use of aluminum as a body material by automakers such as Ford Motor Co. in its 2015 F-150 and the implications using the lighter metal might have for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards – which are going to become more important the closer we get to the 2015 rules.
Ford has already filed for more than 100 patents in connection with its development of the F-150’s aluminum body. Alcoa Inc, which is producing much of the aluminum for the fleet of new trucks, applied this month for a $275 million federal loan so it can retrofit a plant in Tennessee to produce the body panels for the F-150.
Meanwhile, other automakers are taking aluminum body technology much further than Ford and other American automakers are even considering. Jaguar’s new XE has an aluminum body that is using processes not previously considered by luxury automakers.
While there is still considerable debate as to whether aluminum or nano-steel alloys are the best way to lighten an automaker’s CAFE numbers, it doesn’t seem like aluminum will be a minor player in automotive for very long, no matter who “wins” the car wars.
Key Price Drivers of Automotive Metals Index
At $6,995, the primary copper cash price finished the month up 4.0 percent on the LME. Finishing the month at $831.00 per ounce, US palladium bar recorded a 3.0 percent increase. On the LME, the 3-month price of copper grew 2.9 percent to finish at $6,905 per metric ton. US HDG saw its price rise 1.8 percent to $787.00 per short ton. The price of US platinum bar rose 0.8 percent to $1,432 per ounce after falling the previous month. The price of Chinese lead increased 0.7 percent to $2,240 per metric ton.
Hovering around $3.81 per kilogram for the month, Korean 5052 aluminum coil premium over 1050 sheet remained relatively unchanged.
The Automotive MMI® collects and weights 7 metal price points used in automotive production to provide a unique view into automotive metal trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Automotive MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.