While giant producers of the light metal like Alcoa and Novelis tried unsuccessfully for decades to lure automakers to give up the steel in favor of the way lighter material, it’s just now that their efforts could bear fruit.
The aluminum producers tried to woo carmakers from using the heavy metal and refresh their factories to produce aluminum bodied cars, but it’s only with the advent of the best-selling Ford F-150 that the industry is opening its eyes to the material. Don’t think that aluminum hasn’t been used in the car industry – Audi uses it for the A8 and the new Range Rovers also incorporate it. The only fact is that usually the sales of the F-150 dwarf all other aluminum using models, which is why the metal has suddenly become relevant.
The generational shift in the use of metal could turn the aluminum auto business into one that generates $10 billion in a decade, but the big players will not remain alone on the market.
“Novelis and Alcoa are clearly long-term strong players. We believe there is room for (more) players,” said Steven Demetriou, chief executive officer and chairman of Aleris, another aluminum producer. “We’re one of the top players in Europe in automotive rolled products. We’re looking to duplicate that in the United States.”
Since Ford unveiled their overhauled new generation F-150, which uses military grade aluminum to shed weight, besides Alcoa and Novelis, which say they’re not worried about rivals as the market has room to grow, Constellium NV also unveiled plans for a US body sheet plant, while Aleris Corp and Wise Metals Group are also prospecting the market for possible new factories.