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Alcan's Aluminum Solutions Help the GM Precept Achieve Outstanding Goals

Alcan Automotive : 11 January, 2000  (Company News)
Aluminum solutions from Alcan Global Automotive Products are helping General Motors progress down the pathway to high fuel efficiency. The GM Precept technology demonstration vehicle makes extensive use of aluminum in an advanced lightweight design that delivers outstanding performance.
The Precept, on display here at the North American International Auto Show, is a highly fuel efficient and aerodynamic showcase of advanced technologies. GM chose aluminum as the vehicle's primary structural material because of its proven ability to meet mass, stiffness and crash requirements. Aluminum is also the primary material for the exterior, including the hood, front fenders, doors, quarter panels and deck lid. It also appears in a wide range of other applications, resulting in a vehicle with a total body mass of 152 kg — 45 percent less than a comparable steel body design.

Powered by a hybrid electric propulsion system, the Precept carries five passengers safely and comfortably, with nearly three times the fuel efficiency of a contemporary family sedan such as the Chevrolet Impala.

'Alcan supplied early design assistance and aluminum for the Precept as a continuation of our partnership with GM's Advanced Technology Vehicle programs and as an extension of our work on the aluminum structure of the EV1 electric car,' said Donald W. Macmillan, president of Alcan Global Automotive Products. 'We are proud to play a continuing role in helping GM expand its knowledge base in lightweight body design with an eye toward future high-volume manufacturing of energy-efficient vehicles.'

The Precept also features front-and rear-vented brake rotors made of Alcan's patented DURALCAN® aluminum metal-matrix composite material to reduce weight and enhance heat diffusivity. The rotors weigh less than half as much as cast iron and offer more than three times the thermal conductivity, while virtually eliminating rotor/drum corrosion issues.

The Precept evolved as a result of GM's involvement in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) — a collaborative effort of the domestic auto industry and the U.S. Government that began in 1993. The PNGV goals are reduced emissions and up to three times the fuel efficiency of conventional family cars without compromising safety, performance, affordability or utility. Aluminum has been identified by the PNGV's National Research Council as the leading candidate material for achieving the goal of an 80-mile-per-gallon vehicle.

The ongoing partnership between Alcan and GM was highlighted in 1998 by the signing of a 10-year, multibillion-dollar aluminum supply agreement that is based on a shared vision for the integrated use of aluminum in automobile components and structures. The agreement broke new ground in terms of ensuring long-term availability of metal at stable cost. Alcan is currently the leading supplier of aluminum sheet to GM for exterior body panel applications.
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