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Japanese Automakers to Limit Aluminum Usage

Japanese Automakers to Limit Aluminum Usage

Monday, November 25, 2002
 
Focusing on improving powertrains to improve future fuel consumption as opposed to reducing rolling resistance and vehicle weight, Japanese automakers are expected to limit aluminum usage over the next decade, according to a report provided to Automotive Industries magazine. By 2010, according to experts surveyed, aluminum usage in Japanese-made vehicles will average 10 percent of vehicle weight as compared to the current figure, 8 percent. According to the report, here’s how the major automakers plan to use aluminum: * Toyota plans to cut vehicle weight by one-quarter by 2010, primarily by adopting aluminum engine blocks in 50 percent of its engines, compared to 35 percent today. The company also will convert cylinder heads to aluminum, and will turn to aluminum for hoods and trunks in upscale models. * Like Toyota, Nissan will implement aluminum hoods and trunks on higher-end models, and will introduce aluminum doors and body panels on some models. Already, Nissan uses aluminum for about 70 percent of its engine blocks and for nearly 100 percent of its cylinder heads and transmission casings. * In 1994, Honda converted all its gasoline engine blocks to aluminum, but is resisting the move to aluminum body panels, claiming that aluminum is twice as costly as steel in such applications. It will explore aluminum for panels and other components in specialty cars such as those with hybrid power plants. Aluminum sheet use in Japanese-made vehicles is expected to increase from 2001 levels of 3,000 tons to 20-25,000 tons in 2010, due largely to increased use in high-end-model panel production as noted above. Use of rolled aluminum and extrusions should reach 260,000 tons in 2010, up from 221,235 used in 2001, half of which was aluminum plate.

 

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