3 in 4 new pickups will have aluminum bodies in 10 years, study says

Updated Jun 22, 2014
Click to enlarge (Graphic: The Aluminum Association)Click to enlarge (Graphic: The Aluminum Association)

By 2025, more than 75 percent of all new pickup trucks produced in North America will be aluminum-bodied, according to a recent survey of automakers.

The study, conducted by Ducker Worldwide, confirms a major breakthrough for automotive aluminum into high-volume vehicles.

Ducker surveyed all major automakers and reports Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will become the biggest users of aluminum sheet in the next decade. It also forecasts that the number of vehicles with complete aluminum body structures will reach 18 percent of North American production, from less than one percent today.

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Vehicle segments revealed as emerging aluminum content leaders are pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and both mid-sized and full-size sedans.  

The study finds that every leading automaker will have numerous aluminum body and closure programs by 2025. As the material mix for body and closure parts continues to change dramatically in the years to come, use of aluminum sheet for vehicle bodies will increase to 4 billion pounds by 2025, from 200 million pounds in 2012, according to the report.

“The numbers tell a powerful story of aluminum’s explosive growth across the automotive sector,” says Tom Boney, chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group and vice president and general manager of automotive for Novelis in North America. “Within the next ten years, seven out of 10 new pickups produced in North America will be aluminum-bodied, and so too will be more than 20 percent of SUVs and full–sized sedans.”

The findings of the “2015 North American Light Vehicle Aluminum Content Study” were compiled using data updated and verified between October 2013 and April 2014.

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“Aluminum-bodied cars and trucks are coming in a big way – and soon. Consumers won’t visibly notice a different metal under the paint, but they’ll see greater savings at the gas pump and experience better performance and handling at the wheel,” adds Boney.

Additional findings from the study include:

  • For 2015, pickup trucks will contain the most aluminum at 548.9 lbs. per vehicle, followed closely by E segment sedans at 546.9 lbs., SUVs at 410.3 lbs. and minivans at 396.5 lbs.
  • The average aluminum content in 2015 will be up 44 pounds per vehicle or 13% over 2012.
  • Total North American light vehicle aluminum consumption will increase 28% in 2015 over 2012.
  • Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and Ford will all exceed the average aluminum content and the average aluminum share of curb weight for 2015.
  • By 2025, 26.6 percent of all the body and closure parts for light vehicles in North America will be made of aluminum.
  • Total North American aluminum content in 2025 will be 10 billion pounds.
  • Aluminum hood penetration will reach 85 percent and doors will reach 46 percent; complete bodies will reach 18%, from less than one percent today.
  • Globally, light vehicle aluminum content will approach 35 billion pounds by 2025 making light vehicles the most important global market for aluminum.