Source: Lincoln Motor Company Media Center
The rise of aluminum in the automotive industry is something we’ve kept tabs on here, as some automakers have opted for the lightweight metal for their models, as opposed to steel.
Not surprisingly, there are passionate supports of each metal, who will tell you why one is better than the other.
For supporters of aluminum — or, more importantly, automotive brands moving toward aluminum-intensive vehicles — the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit offered some good news.
Aluminum-intensive vehicles were recognized during the show, which opened Jan. 13 and comes to an end Jan. 28.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator was named Truck of the Year and the 2018 Honda Accord was named Car of the Year in the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) Awards, which were announced Jan. 15. According to the aluminum Association, the awards marked the second straight year in which an aluminum-intensive vehicles has won a NACTOY award.
According to the Aluminum Association announcement, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator’s all-aluminum body dropped the car’s weight by 200 pounds. The 2018 Honda Accord, meanwhile, is lighter by 110 to 176 pounds, depending on the trim, according to the announcement.
“It’s no wonder Car and Truck of the Year winners innovate with aluminum,” said Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, in a prepared statement. “From performance, safety and durability, to fuel economy, battery range and emissions, aluminum delivers in every category consumers demand in new cars and trucks. That’s why recent surveys of automakers confirm aluminum is the fastest growing material, leading the multi-material trend. It’s also why the U.S. aluminum industry invested more than 2.3 billion dollars in domestic automotive capacity and we’re poised to invest further as our customers continue to innovate with aluminum in next generation automobiles.”
Other finalists at the show included:
- The 2018 Ford Expedition (NACTOY Truck of the Year finalist)
- 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio (NACTOY Utility of the Year finalist)
- 2018 Honda Odyssey (NACTOY Utility of the Year finalist)
- 2018 Toyota Camry (NACTOY Car of the Year finalist)
- 2018 Kia Niro (NACTOY Utility of the Year semi-finalist)
- 2018 Lexus LC500 (NACTOY Car of the Year semi-finalist)
- 2018 Hyundai Ionic (NACTOY Car of the Year semi-finalist)
- 2018 Audi A5 Sportback (NACTOY Car of the Year semi-finalist)
But what does the future hold for aluminum in the automotive industry?
While the metal is lighter than steel, it is more expensive. According to MetalMiner IndX data, LME primary cash aluminum is up 19.6% since this time last year, up to $2,235/metric ton as of Jan. 24.
If aluminum price increases continue to rise — and outpace those of steel — it bears monitoring whether the allure of aluminum wears off in any way.