While Western automakers have signaled a deep change in the manufacturing of cars, the carmakers in Asia are still very tied to the traditional steel building, deterred by the costs.
Companies like Audi, Ford or Jaguar Land Rover lead the way in the next generation aluminium construction process, while BMW, for example has went even further, investing massive amounts of money into the research, development and manufacture of carbon fiber.
“A really big challenge at the moment for the Asian companies is to find out how they should behave in this context of vehicles coming under more pressure to be lighter,” said Truls Thorstensen, president and CEO of EFS Business Consultancy.
On the other hand, for example South Korea’s big duo – Hyundai and its affiliate Kia – although sources point out they both had prototypes of their key Genesis and K9 (K900) sedans that used aluminum around four years ago, ultimately went for the traditional steel approach.
While there could be plenty of reasons for the unwillingness to adopt the new technology, primarily it all comes down to cost – the cost of research, development, manufacturing facility, supplier and service retooling and the relationship with already established auto parts partners. On the other hand, the Asian manufacturers will have a challenge, as making the cars lighter gets ruled out, to achieve the new – stricter – rules for emissions in both the US and Europe, they will need to come up with another strategy.