Next Up for Aluminum Car Bodies? The Toyota Camry

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Toyota Motor Corp. is set to become the next global automaker to begin making the expensive shift from steel to aluminum for a high-volume vehicle, according to Automotive News.

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The US-built Camry, the country’s best-selling car, is slated to get an aluminum hood in 2018, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Toyota’s first foray into aluminum closures in North America will come next year when the 2016 Lexus RX 350 crossover, which is made in Cambridge, Ontario, gets an aluminum hood and liftgate, the source told Automotive News.

The aluminum sheet for the Camry hood likely will come from a joint venture between Toyota Tsusho Corp., a trading company affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., and Kobe Steel to produce more aluminum sheet metal in the US. Toyota will be among the venture’s first customers, several sources confirmed. Production is expected to begin in 2017 and ramp up to full output at the beginning of 2018.

Negotiations on site selection and some details for the joint venture are expected to conclude this month. The operation, which will produce 100,000 tons of aluminum sheet capacity annually, will be built in the Southeast, possibly near Wise Alloys, a Muscle Shoals, Ala., aluminum producer for the food and beverage industries, which will source the master coils to make the aluminum sheet, according to a source involved with negotiations.

On Thursday, September 25, the aluminum cash price fell by 0.9% on the LME, landing at $1,922 per metric ton and making it the day’s biggest mover. The aluminum 3-month price weakened by 0.8% on the LME, settling at $1,957 per metric ton. Following two days of downward movement, the cash price of primary Indian aluminum held steady at INR 119.80 ($1.97) per kilogram.

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Chinese aluminum prices were flat for the day. The price of Chinese aluminum scrap held steady at CNY 12,250 ($1,996) per metric ton. The price of Chinese aluminum billet saw little movement at CNY 13,590 ($2,215) per metric ton. The price of Chinese aluminum bar continues hovering around CNY 14,200 ($2,314) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row. For the fifth day in a row, the cash price of Chinese aluminum remained essentially flat at CNY 13,960 ($2,275) per metric ton.

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