Steel industry fights back against automakers’ growing use of aluminum. The contest is heating up this fall as Ford begins producing the new 2015 F-150 pickup, America’s best selling vehicle and the first pickup with an all aluminum body. Automakers traditionally used steel for nearly all vehicle bodies and the underlying chassis and platforms. That’s changing.
Aluminum is light and strong, but more expensive than steel. Aluminum prices have averaged about USD 2,200 per ton over the last five years. By contrast steel ranges between about USD 300 per ton for sheet metal and USD 500 for shredded auto scrap. Despite its cost, automakers have switched many steel parts to aluminum as they seek to reduce weight and improve fuel economy and performance.
Mr Michael Robinet MD of IHS Automotive said that “The steel industry is taking the new uses for aluminum very seriously. The aluminum bodied F-150 was a wake up call for the entire industry that they can’t count on automotive business any more.” Mr Ronald Krupitzer, vice president of the Steel Market Development Institute said that “The North American steel industry has been working with carmakers to demonstrate the weight savings of advanced high strength steels. The steelmakers hope to reduce vehicle weight at a lower price than aluminum, though they’re unlikely to match aluminum pound for pound. We project the usage of (high-strength steel) to continue to rise.”