Articles in Category: Automotive

robot building automotive aluminum component

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This morning in metals news: Novelis announced the commercial availability of a new class of high-strength automotive aluminum; meanwhile, the United States Geological Survey updated its Mineral Deposit Database for niobium; and the global aluminum market surplus more than tripled from 2019 to 2020.

Novelis announces new high-strength automotive aluminum

Atlanta-based Novelis today announced it will offer a new “ultra-high-strength” automotive aluminum solution.

The product, Novelis AdvanzTM 7UHS-s701, offers “lightweighting potential of up to 40% over existing ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel solutions.”

“The s701 technology represents the future of high-strength material in automotive applications and offers a clear alternative to the most advanced high-strength steel products,” said Philippe Meyer, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Novelis. “Aluminum is already the material of choice for lightweighting, and now we are offering a solution that helps automakers design even safer, lighter and better performing vehicles.”

Stop obsessing about the actual forecasted aluminum price. It’s more important to spot the trend

USGS updates database entry for niobium

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has updated its database entry for the mineral niobium.

“Niobium is vital to many sectors of our infrastructure and manufacturing economy, and the United States is 100 percent reliant on other countries for it,” said Jeff Mauk, USGS lead scientist for USMIN. “Updates to our database can help weigh the potential for domestic niobium production against the need for future trade agreements.”

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Indonesia on a globe

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Electric vehicle manufacturers are wooing Indonesia to create a nickel-based battery supply chain in that country.

Elon Musk’s Tesla and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology, otherwise known as CATL, and South Korea’s LG Chem are in the fray. 

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Firms look to secure Indonesian nickel supply

A senior Indonesian government official told news agency Reuters the government had recently received Tesla’s investment proposal. 

Since early last year, Tesla has been courting Indonesia because for the value of its strategic commodities, including nickel. Nickel is a critical metal used in batteries for EVs due to its properties enabling mass energy storage capabilities. Furthermore, nickel reduces the overall cost of batteries by limiting the amount of cobalt required. 

Tesla seems to have come back to the Indonesian government with a reworked proposal to the one it had submitted in May 2020. The latter had shown reluctance in just signing a raw material supply agreement. 

The minister told reporters, while acknowledging Tesla had sent its proposal, that Tesla’s engagement in Indonesia would extend past raw materials. If Tesla only wants to take raw materials, then the government was not too keen in pursuing a partnership.

Indonesia is also talking to CATL and LG Chem regarding their plans to create an EV battery supply chain, the Nikkei Asia reported. 

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carbon footprint

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Although originally borrowed from a book of the same name, some call Australia the “Lucky Country.”  Blessed with resource abundance, a warm climate and decades of near uninterrupted growth, it certainly seems to have it all.

But it isn’t alone.

For decades, industrialized countries have looked at the Middle East’s oil wealth with some degree of envy. Those countries have also looked on with a little irritation, particularly when OPEC artificially engineers oil price rises to reap huge financial rewards for member states.

The United Arab Emirates seems to have the best of both vast oil wealth and the nous (to use the British slang) to invest the proceeds, not just in palaces and Rolls Royce cars but in infrastructure, education and diversified industrial development.

As the world potentially approaches peak oil — how many times have we heard that over the decades? — the UAE is already beginning to exploit its other near endless resource: sunlight.

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Carbon-free aluminum

The output from its 1 GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park — or, at least, 560,000 megawatt-hours of its output — will feed the Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) smelter.

That’s enough power, The Driven reports, to produce some 40,000 tons of carbon-free aluminum.

Originally based on low-cost, natural-gas-powered electricity, the UAE can now neatly transition its aluminum smelters into the future of renewable power.

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US and UAE flags

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, including the Biden administration reimposing a tariff on aluminum from the UAE, copper demand and much more.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Week of Feb. 8-12 (Biden administration reinstates UAE aluminum tariff, copper demand and more)

Stop obsessing about the actual forecasted aluminum price. It’s more important to spot the trend.

General Motors headquarters

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This morning in metals news: automaker General Motors is facing challenges related to semiconductor supply; meanwhile, Oslo-based Norsk Hydro reported its Q4 2020 financial results; and, lastly, the oil price continues to tick up.

Semiconductor supply

End users across sectors are dealing with material shortage challenges.

The automotive sector is no different.

This week, General Motors announced it would extend previously announced downtimes at its Fairfax, CAMI and San Luis Potosi.

“Semiconductor supply remains an issue that is facing the entire industry,” GM said in a release. “GM’s plan is to leverage every available semiconductor to build and ship our most popular and in-demand products, including full-size trucks and SUVs and Corvettes for our customers. Our supply chain organization is working closely with our supply base to find solutions for our suppliers’ semiconductor requirements and to mitigate impacts on GM.”

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Norsk Hydro reports Q4 results

Oslo-based aluminum firm Norsk Hydro reported Q4 EBIT of NOK 1,449 million (US $171 million).

Meanwhile, the firm reported Q4 2019 EBIT of NOK 560 million (US $66 million).

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Mercedes Benz logo

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Ola Källenius, boss of Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler, made some interesting comments this week, as reported in a Financial Times article.

The automaker is setting an end-of-decade target for Mercedes-Benz’s profits from its electric vehicles to equal that of its internal combustion engines. Källenius fed the investor market with good news from a brand that managed just 50,000 EV sales this year (and probably made little or no money on them).

Daimler to spin off trucks division, rebrand as Mercedes-Benz

Källenius also addressed the group’s sizeable truck division. Daimler intends to spin it off and float on the Frankfurt stock exchange as a standalone unit.

The truck and auto units have a combined market value of €72 billion. However, they play to different song sheets. As such, the market does not fairly value either division.

The sum of the parts, Daimler believes, is valued at less than the total of the parts. Currently, the truck division is worth about €32 billion.

The market not buying autos EV potential in the way it has for the likes of Tesla.

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The future of trucks

Källenius may have a point.

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metals prices

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, from steadier metals prices to the United States Court of International Trade’s recent ruling related to a Section 232 steel tariff challenge.

Furthermore, Brazilian miner Vale reached a massive settlement two years after the Brumadinho tailings dam disaster.

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Week of Feb. 1-5 (metals prices in 2021, USCIT rules on Section 232 and more)

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Tailings mud after dam rupture in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Tailings mud after dam rupture in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Christyam/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: Brazilian miner Vale reached a $7 billion settlement with the state of Minas Gerais two years after a fatal dam collapse; the US goods and services deficit decreased in December; and Ford Motor Co. announced an increase in its planned investment in electric and autonomous vehicles.

Vale reaches $7B settlement

Approximately two years after a fatal dam breach in Brumadinho in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, miner Vale will pay a nearly US $7 billion settlement.

The breach in January 2019 led to the death of 270 people.

“In the socioeconomic part, the settlement encompasses projects demanded by the affected communities, a program of income transfer to the affected population – replacing the current payment of emergency aid – and projects for Brumadinho and for the other municipalities of the Paraopeba Basin, in addition to resources for the Government of the State of Minas Gerais to carry out the Urban Mobility Program and the Public Service Strengthening Program,” Vale said in its announcement.

“Regarding the socio-environmental reparation, the Global Settlement establishes the guidelines and the governance for the execution, by Vale, of the Reparation Plan, as well as projects to be implemented as compensation for the environmental damage already known and projects aimed at water security in the impacted region.”

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US goods and services deficit rises in 2020

The US’s goods and services deficit in December reached $66.6 billion in December, down from $69.0 billion in November.

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automotive sale in dealership

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The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) ticked up 4.6% for this month’s value, as automotive sales were strong in January.

US auto sales

On the sales front, Honda reported its US sales fell by 9.2% in January. Sales totaled 92,225 units in the first month of the new year.

Honda truck sales fell 2.2%, while car sales dipped 19.1%.

Last month, Nissan reported Q4 2020 sales fell 19.3% year over year, while full-year 2020 sales dropped 33.2%.

Hyundai Motor America reported January sales rose 2% year over year. Furthermore, Hyundai’s retail sales ticked up 1% and set an all-time January retail record.

“We are off to a strong start to the year and remain optimistic for continued sales and market share gains in 2021,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president for national sales at Hyundai Motor America. “We’ve been able to consistently grow retail sales thanks to our outstanding product lineup and a commitment from our dealer partners to exceed customer expectations.”

As noted last month, General Motors reported Q4 2020 total sales rose 5% year over year. The automaker said the quarter marked its best Q4 for retail sales since 2007.

Ford Motor Co. last month announced its Q4 sales fell 9.8% year over year.

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January growth in automotive sales

Overall, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive forecast January sales would come in up from a year ago.

The firms forecast new-vehicle retail sales in January would be up 6.1% year over year when adjusted for selling days (January 2021 has one fewer selling day).

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General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

Katherine Welles/Adobe Stock

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals storylines here on MetalMiner.

In sustainability news, Big 3 automaker General Motors said it intends to be carbon neutral in its operations by 2040. The automaker has also indicated it will offer 30 new all-electric models by mid-decade, as it — like other traditional automakers — aims to catch up to Tesla in the electric vehicle market.

In other news, US GDP gained by 4% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, US steel imports increased in December and the copper price rise has slowed down in recent weeks.

Week of Jan. 25-29 (General Motors makes carbon pledge, copper prices and more)

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