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New Vehicle Segments Heavy on Aluminum

It’s common knowledge that the use of aluminum in vehicles produced in North America is expected to increase over the next five years. But which vehicle segments are driving that growth? It’s the new ones with the funny acronyms: MAV (Multi-Activity Vehicle) and CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle). These segments, which CSM expects to contribute 19 percent of North American production volume by 2007, consists of vehicles such as the BMW X5, Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Liberty, Honda Element and Pontiac Vibe to name a few. Along that same timeframe, components such as suspension arms, knuckles, wheels, cylinder blocks and heads, radiators, and structural components will see an eight percent increase in aluminum usage. In 2002, the MAV/CUV segments contributed 10 percent of aluminum usage for those components. But by 2007, the segment will account for 19 percent of the aluminum usage for those same components. Why? The usual reason applies here as automakers look for ways to lower weight to increase fuel economy. But also the vehicles in the segments they are replacing (Small Car, Mid-size Vans and Large SUVs) are either not cost effective enough to include aluminum or they had historically non-independent rear suspensions, which means lost opportunity for aluminum suspension arms, knuckles, crossmembers and sub frames.
 


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