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New survey: strong growth of aluminium in new e-vehicles

Expected demand from leading vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers suggest aluminium content surge in EV market

North American light vehicle aluminium content

A new survey of automakers and Tier 1 suppliers conducted by Ducker Carlisle concludes that as electric vehicles continue to enter the mass market, aluminium demand will grow through the end of the decade. 

The report, 2023 North American Light Vehicle Aluminium Content and Outlook, released by the Aluminum Association (AA) indicates that demand for more sustainable transport will help drive an increase in market share for aluminium content by nearly 100 net pounds per vehicle (PPV) from 2020 to 2030.

Consumers want cars and trucks that are more sustainable, more electrified

“Consumers want cars and trucks that are more sustainable, more electrified and filled with more technology, and automakers are responding with a host of innovations, all enabled by high-strength, low weight and infinitely recyclable aluminium,” said Mike Keown, chairman of AA’s Transportation Group and CEO of Commonwealth Rolled Products. “The aluminium industry is committed to ensuring consumers experience the performance and environmental benefits of aluminium as more and more vehicles are designed with the metal in the years ahead. Greater collaboration with automakers will bring to life this vision, set forth by the aluminium industry in its 10-year roadmap. And as mega-casting and closed-loop recycling continue to advance, aluminium producers remain vital partners in helping automakers achieve aggressive carbon neutral targets.”

Five key market topics

The report, which reflects data collected during an 8-month period through interviews with leading automakers, Tier 1 suppliers and aluminium producer companies, identifies five key market themes:

  • Proliferation of BEVs will dramatically change the North American light vehicle landscape. BEV share of production nearly doubled from just under 3 % in 2020 to approximately 6 % in 2022. By 2030, BEVs, which on average are more aluminium-intensive, are expected to exceed 36 % share of production.
  • Trend toward larger vehicles that have more aluminium content per vehicle. Consumers affinity toward larger vehicles continues, helping drive increased aluminium growth. In 2022, light trucks outnumbered cars four to one and contained more than 30 % more aluminium than cars.
  • Aggressive CO2 and Miles Per Gallon (MPG) regulatory targets helping drive EV adoption and aluminium growth. Recent federal regulation ushering in more stringent CO2 and MPG targets expected for 2027 to 2030 incentivizes EV adoption and helps further drive aluminium growth.
  • Aluminium content per vehicle continues its uninterrupted growth. A net gain of 56 pounds per vehicle is expected between 2020 and 2025 with aluminium growing by almost 100 net PPV between 2020 and 2030 to 550 PPV, a 233 % increase over 1990, when aluminium accounted for just 165 PPV.
  • Near term aluminium growth led by extrusions and sheet. Extrusions demonstrate significant growth within the body-in-white (BIW) and crash management systems (CMS) gaining 47 pounds per vehicle from 2020 to 2030, becoming the fastest growing product form, while auto body sheet (ABS) and sheet for thermal management systems will increase 41 PPV from 2020 to 2030. Castings remain the largest aluminium product form, but growth is limited as powertrain and transmission components are replaced by e-drives, battery housings, high-voltage devices, etc.

Electrified powertrains create significant growth opportunities for aluminium

“Electrification positively affects aluminium content and compensates for the transition away from powertrain and transmission components, which are primarily aluminium,” said Abey Abraham, principal of automotive and materials at Ducker Carlisle. “As electrified powertrains create significant growth opportunities for aluminium, more stringent fuel economy standards also continue to promote mass reduction in ICE vehicles.”

Additional findings from the triannual “North American Light Vehicle Aluminium Content and Outlook” include:

  • Key components for aluminium growth on EVs between 2022 and 2030 include battery housings, e-motors and drives, door sills and rockers.
  • By 2030, battery electric light-trucks are expected to average 644 pounds of aluminium content.
  • SUVs and pickups will make up nearly 85 % of the BEV market by 2030.

Automotive aluminium sector remains vital to manufacturing base in US

A thriving automotive aluminium sector remains vital to the nation’s manufacturing base and a healthy US economy. Last year, the US aluminium industry announced more investment in domestic manufacturing than in the past several decades combined to support growing demand for the metal. Companies announced billions to build new aluminium rolling and recycling capacity, including greenfield plants slated to come online in the coming years, to support automotive and other markets. It has been more than 40 years since a similar, new US-based mill was built.

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