If you’ve ever watched an infomercial – and who hasn’t – you know those words, alerting you to incredible additional “values” to come.This blog started as a recap of my presentation at the recent AAC Annual Conference on the outlook for extrusion in the auto market, and the potential implications for anodizers. But wait … there’s more, as I’ve gained additional insights over the past couple weeks that I’ll share with you.
My message at the Conference: driven (pun intended) by substantial increases in extrusion content as automakers strive to hit the 54.4 mpg government target by 2025, transport applications are likely to surpass building and construction as the largest end use for extrusions. The market today has pretty much accepted that:
· Vehicle “lightweighting” is one of 3 key strategies to meet the ’25 target, along with ongoing drivetrain improvements (e.g. 7,8,9-speed transmissions) and alternative vehicle power systems – electrics and hybrids
· Aluminum will be the key element in lightweighting programs, along with next-generation high-strength steels, and some use of higher cost light weight materials such as magnesium and carbon fiber
· Multi-material vehicle architecture will be the norm. Note that the new Ford F-150, hailed for its aluminum content, retains a high strength steel ladder frame.The implications of all this for those of us close to the extrusion industry are that extruded shapes per-vehicle usage is projected to nearly triple by 2025, with the greatest increase coming in body-related applications.
Also, there is a major push at the auto OEM’s to figure out how best to build the coming multi-material vehicles – in particular, how to join different forms (casting, sheet, extrusion) of aluminum … and aluminum to steel and other materials. There is a tremendous level of development going on relative to adhesive bonding – as pioneered by Jaguar Land Rover – as a likely “answer”, and at least some discussion of anodizing as an attractive pre-treatment to ensure an optimal surface for effective bonding.But wait … there really is more. While the direction noted above has been clear, several experiences over the past two weeks reinforce it.
The first: the presentation, with AEC colleagues, of extrusion applications to engineers from one of the “Big 3” as part of a “Light Weight Week” organized with the goal of changing their culture. Top management’s message was clear: lightweighting will be our way of life, and we’ve got to accelerate progress. As clear as that message was, it was equally clear that they’re trying to learn a great deal very quickly, and are looking for help.The second: The Dick Schultz, (Ducker Worldwide) presentation at Aluminum Week. Dick provided an update on the auto industry’s progress toward the ’25 goal, with the conclusion that lightweighting will be even more important than anticipated. Seems that North Americans are buying fewer alternative fuel (electric, hybrid) vehicles and more trucks (pick-ups, SUVs and vans) than assumed in the fuel economy models. Given no indication that there will be a relaxation in the 2025 goal, additional lightweighting will have to count for more mileage improvement.
Finally: Toyota announced plans to introduce an aluminum hood and liftgate on the ’16 Lexus RX350, and an aluminum hood on the ’18 Camry. They may be late to the party, but sources tell us there is significant extrusion in their plans as well.So the “more” is real … more aluminum, more extrusion, more opportunity for those who can assist the auto makers in effectively using it.
This post was written by AAC’s 2014 Fall Conference speaker Lynn Brown of Consulting Collaborative