While it seems that Alcoa and Novelis have become the two major players in the automotive industry’s steel overhaul, other aluminum companies—Constellium NV, Aleris Corp., and Wise Metals Group—are also surfacing to become a part of the car industry’s shift to aluminum. Dutch-based aluminum manufacturer Constellium is breaking ground on a body sheet plant in the US, and Aleris and Wise Metals are thinking of doing the same. Constellium currently supplies to Volkswagen, while Aleris works with Audi and Mercedes.
Though there certainly will be competition among the aluminum companies, there seems to be more than enough work to go around. Fabricating aluminum car parts will likely grow into a $10 billion industry in the next ten years, with demand likely to grow 40 percent in that same time frame. While Novelis and Alcoa have already begun on production with US car companies, it will be a few years before competing aluminum companies begin production.
Car manufacturers have finally realized the benefits of all-aluminum bodied cars. Though an expensive investment, the lighter metal improves fuel efficiency, allows for cars to stop and start faster, and allows trucks to carry heavier objects. The major push came from Obama, when he mandated that new cars must double their fuel economies by 2025.
Alcoa has been ahead of the game for awhile. Fifteen years ago, the company invented A951, an invisible coating that creates stronger and sturdier bonds between aluminum parts. Alcoa patented the product, but was then asked by Ford to share the licensing with other aluminum companies. Car companies are working with different aluminum companies to supply parts, so as not to create a monopoly supplier. Alcoa gladly complied.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
July 2, 2014
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