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News

Alcan Predicts Major Rise in Automotive Aluminum Usage

Alcan Automotive : 18 February, 2000  (Company News)
Aluminum consumption in the automotive industry will climb by 2.5 million metric tons, or more than 55 percent, over the next five years on a global basis, a senior Alcan executive told automotive journalists attending the opening of the Canadian International Auto Show here yesterday.
Richard B. Evans, president of the Alcan Global Fabrication Group, predicted that aluminum consumption in the auto industry will increase to more than 7 million metric tons by 2005.

He said that aluminum usage in North American cars and light trucks has climbed from an average 50 pounds per vehicle 40 years ago to 250 pounds today, building toward an entirely new generation of aluminum-structured vehicles that will each use between 700 and 900 pounds.

'Aluminum will continue its penetration in the automotive market,' Evans said. 'By 2010, we expect to see a number of mass-produced, high-volume, aluminum-intensive vehicles (AIVs) on the road in both Europe and North America.'

He noted that Alcan is in the process of merging with two of Europe's largest aluminum companies Pechiney and algroup. The merger will create a global company with approximately US$22 billion in combined 1998 sales, a presence in 59 countries, 91,000 employees and more than 276 facilities around the world.

'The new company will have sufficient capacity to meet the growing demand for high-volume automotive platforms in both Europe and North America,' Evans said, noting that the company will offer automotive aluminum in a full range of product forms.

He pointed out that Alcan is in the final phases of a CAN$69-million expansion of its Kingston, Ontario manufacturing plant a facility that produces automotive aluminum sheet metal.

Evans said that Alcan's high-strength, lightweight automotive products have become increasingly popular among automakers for a variety of reasons beyond just weight savings, including:

Improved vehicle performance through better acceleration and handling, along with reduced noise and vibration.

Environmental benefits that include 100 percent recyclability with 95 percent retention of its original energy. (Only five percent of the energy required to produce primary aluminum is needed in the recycling process.)

Improved fuel efficiency that results in increases in gasoline mileage of between six to eight percent for every 10 percent reduction in weight.

Reduced emissions, based on life cycle research that indicates that for every ton of aluminum that replaces steel in today's cars, there is a reduction of 20 tons of carbon monoxide over the average life of a vehicle.

Safety improvements based on the fact that aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel, and can absorb the same amount of energy at little more than half the weight.

Commenting further, Evans mentioned Alcan's leading position in automotive aluminum and cited its partnering approach with General Motors and Ford Motor Company as examples of how Alcan has differentiated itself from its competition. Late last month, Alcan announced a long-term metal supply agreement with Ford, similar to the multi-billion dollar supply agreement and strategic alliance signed in late 1998 with GM. He remarked, 'Alcan is the only major aluminum supplier to have established long-term supply positions with the world's two leading automakers.'
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