According to many industry observers, analysts and even executives from top suppliers, Ford’s move to produce the F-150 pickup truck with an aluminum body is shaping up as the crucial step in a new auto revolution.
Following the US automaker’s steps, a large number of automakers are rumored to make the switch from steel to aluminum to gain critical weight advantages. Novelis, the Atlanta-based manufacturer of aluminum sheets for vehicle bodies, anticipates (along analysts) a massive shift towards the lightweight material, further increasing its quota of the market.
“The overall pie is growing and still the share of automotive sales will jump,” says Debnarayan Bhattacharya, managing director of both Novelis and its parent Hindalco Industries Ltd. “We’ve started supplying to Ford for their F-150.”
The world’s biggest producer of aluminum for auto usage expects demand to jump anywhere from three to five times – cautioning the rise could also spearhead crucial price increases. That would translate to higher vehicle purchase costs, even as the customers would benefit from the lower fuel usage attributed to the weight reduction.
Novelis, owned by Mumbai, India-based Hindalco, the world’s largest aluminum sheet supplier, says that today the auto usage doesn’t go beyond 9%. The situation would change by 2020, with 25% of its aluminum production dedicated to the automotive sector.