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News

Alcan Partners with Ford to Support a New Generation of Vehicles

Alcan Automotive : 10 January, 2000  (Company News)
Alcan Global Automotive Products' aluminum engineering
The Prodigy, an aluminum-structured hybrid electric vehicle, was previewed to journalists today at the North American International Auto Show. In designing this innovative sedan, Ford aimed for safety, strength, stiffness, durability and positive ride and handling — with minimum weight. Ford's choice of Alcan's unibody technology resulted in a vehicle structure weighing just 310 pounds — a 50 percent weight savings. This, in turn, enabled secondary weight savings such as smaller and lighter suspension components. With a curb weight of 2,387 pounds, the Prodigy is about 1,000 pounds lighter than today's typical sedan, without compromising on passenger comfort and space or on luggage capacity.

'The Prodigy takes excellent advantage of Alcan's automotive aluminum solutions — what we call 'alumineering',' said Donald W. Macmillan, president of Alcan Global Automotive Products. 'The lightweight platform uses Alcan's patented technology for aluminum unibody structures, and is enclosed by aluminum body panels constructed of proprietary Alcan sheet alloys. The car also features an aluminum-intensive engine, and other major powertrain and suspension components of aluminum.'

In addition, the Prodigy uses front rotors and rear brake drums made of Alcan's patented DURALCAN® aluminum metal-matrix composite, a light-weight performance material that enhances brake performance, extends component life and virtually eliminates rotor/drum corrosion issues.

'The Prodigy goes a long way toward meeting our goal of an extremely fuel-efficient family car,' says Neil Ressler, Ford's vice-president, Research and Vehicle Technology and chief technical officer. 'The vehicle's light-weight structure — developed in collaboration with Alcan — is a key factor in helping us achieve our vision for extremely fuel-efficient vehicles with mass appeal.'

Prodigy is the latest generation of aluminum-intensive prototypes developed by Ford as part of the automaker's initiative in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program. PNGV is a collaboration between automakers, the federal government and others aimed at producing a prototype family car that can achieve up to 80 mpg without compromising passenger needs.

'The Prodigy's high-performance aluminum platform is the result of a decade of aluminum research by Ford,' said Macmillan, 'with Alcan participating at every step. This is a real partnership for progress between Alcan and Ford.'
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