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Study highlights advantages of aluminium-intensive LMDVs

A new study shows that aluminium-intensive Last Mile Delivery Vehicles (LMDVs) provides significant cost-saving benefits and a lower carbon footprint. 

Aluminium-intensive LMDVs offer numerous advantages compared with steel ICE vehicles

The study was presented by Alumobility, of leading aluminium and downstream technology partners that supports automotive manufacturers in creating lighter, safer, smarter and more sustainable vehicles. The focus is on technical studies to advance the adoption of aluminium automotive body sheet. 

Significant cost-savings through the use of aluminium in e-vehicles

As e-commerce continues to grow, the logistics industry is planning to introduce sizable LMDV fleets and turning to aluminium as the ideal material to meet the needs of the marketplace, taking into account costs, sustainability targets and performance.

The study shows that LMDV fleet managers opting for aluminium-intensive electric / battery electric vehicles (EV/BEV) experience 45 % cost savings compared to steel internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Key benefits of aluminium-intensive vehicles compared to steel ICE vehicles include: lighter weight, infinitely recyclable, reduced costs, reduced emissions, lower maintenance and energy costs, less risk of corrosion and more durable.

A primary benefit of shifting away from steel and toward an aluminium-intensive LMDV fleet is that aluminium is 40 % lighter than steel, which is especially important as the market turns to EVs/BEVs as a sustainable option. Aluminium-intensive vehicles require less battery capacity and less motor power to achieve the same performance as steel counterparts, whether conventional ICE vehicles or EV/BEV.

Further benefits

It goes without saying that it takes less energy to operate a lighter weight vehicle than a heavy one. In fact, a 10 % reduction in vehicle weight can result in a 6-8 % reduction improvement in fuel economy. Replacing conventional steel or iron components with a lightweight replacement such as aluminium can reduce the weight of the vehicle and chassis up to 50 % and significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Furthermore, the total cost of ownership of an aluminium-intensive EV/BEV vehicle is lower than a steel ICE or EV/BEV vehicle. In addition to net fuel / electricity costs being reduced, maintenance is also less expensive because aluminium is more durable with less risk of corrosion. 

“Aluminium-intensive vehicles are game changers for the LMDV market,” says Prof. Mark White, technical director of Alumobility. “The design of the LMDV features large flat panels, so it is ideally suited to take advantage of the lightweighting benefit that aluminium offers. This, in turn, translates into a 47 % mass savings.”

In addition to the cost and lightweighting benefits, there are significant sustainability advantages to aluminium-intensive vehicles, which result in lower lifetime carbon emissions. Also, a lighter vehicle puts less wear and tear on tires and brakes, therefore further reducing emissions.

Carbon emission savings

In fact, over the lifetime of a vehicle, there is a significant reduction in CO2 emissions when comparing a steel ICE LMDV with an aluminium-intensive BEV LMDV. A 2022 LCD study showed that a steel ICE vehicle will produce 77 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime while an aluminium-intensive BEV will produce 47 tonnes of CO2 over the vehicle's lifetime and a steel BEV 50 tonnes. 

The key takeaway when comparing a steel BEV with an aluminium BEV, is that there is a 4 % carbon reduction, 22 % mass savings or 540 kg, 6 kWh battery size reduction and 5 % cost per mile reduction.

With the introduction of President Biden’s Clean Action Plan, which hopes to see climate gases reduced by 50-52 % from 2005 levels by 2030 in the United States, the logistics and LMDV industries have added pressure to put sustainability as a priority. In addition, the European Union’s zero pollution action plan for 2050 establishes certain targets for 2030 including improving air quality to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55 %.

“The infinite recyclability and enhanced lifecycle assessment associated with aluminium-intensive vehicles is a major factor for the LMDV market, which is planning for the future and looking to meet strict sustainability targets,” said White.

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