Aluminum Industry Collaborates to Develop Technology Roadmap to Support Automotive Customers
A pre-competitive collaboration for the automotive aluminum industry amid a rapidly evolving market
The Aluminum Association announced today the release of a new technology roadmap that details short-, mid- and long-term research and development (R&D) priorities in support of its automotive customers. The 2022 Roadmap for Automotive Aluminum identifies pathways and prioritizes opportunities for critical collaboration among aluminum suppliers, recyclers, automakers, policymakers, non-governmental organizations and other industry stakeholders to drive innovation throughout the next decade.
“From electric vehicles and connected cars, to autonomous technology and supplier sustainability, the automotive industry is experiencing tectonic shifts in design, propulsion, materials and manufacturability. To meet the moment, the aluminum industry is gearing up to bring to market the most advanced automotive alloys and product designs ever produced,” said Mike Keown, ATG chair and chief executive officer, Commonwealth Rolled Products. “This technology roadmap details where we are today, where we are headed, and specific pathways and priorities that will accelerate technical advances to support automakers as they envision cars and trucks far superior to anything on the road today to meet consumer demands in the next decade, and beyond.”
In an era of rapid electrification, The Aluminum Association brought together industry stakeholders in March 2021 to define and address current challenges, agree on goals and identify technology pathways to achieve those goals within five key areas. As a result, the aluminum industry is committed to:
- Design Engineering—Partnering with automakers in every step of the iterative vehicle design process by establishing open access resources for design data harmonization across the entire value chain, optimizing material joining processes for efficiency, and improving aluminum component manufacturability for strong and durable future vehicles.
- New Alloys and Products—Pursuing newer standardized aluminum alloys at higher strength, improved formability/ductility, enhanced fracture toughness and extrudability—all at a lower cost. As such, aluminum suppliers commit to implement expedited testing and qualification processes to help automakers meet constantly evolving consumer preferences and regulatory sustainability requirements.
- Future Vehicles—Developing even more robust and cost-effective solutions to meet all structural and safety requirements of parts, including battery enclosures. Integration of an aluminum battery box into structures, such as removing the floor pan and using the battery cover instead, could reduce the cost of automotive intelligent vehicles (AIVs).
- Next-Generation Fabrication Technologies—Embracing the next manufacturing revolution with an overarching goal of fully ushering in Industry 4.0 manufacturing to develop smart aluminum processes with enhanced product capabilities for higher quality components. Through R&D endeavors in the next five to 10 years, aluminum technical leaders will address simulation and data needs, and accommodate more efficient and effective material joining and fabrication techniques.
- Recycling & Sustainability—Improving sorting and creating more robust recycling infrastructure to enable effective end of life component recovery and reuse, while incorporating design elements that ensure parts can be disassembled and recycled efficiently to help establish the circular economy so vitally needed in transportation.
Aluminum is well positioned to address the increasing call for sustainable manufacturing to decarbonize the transportation sector.
“The Roadmap for Automotive Aluminum lays out the value-driven steps needed to make large-scale closed-loop aluminum recycling a reality,” said Charles Johnson, president and CEO of The Aluminum Association. “As aluminum use continues to grow, more efficient ways to separate, recover and reuse aluminum scrap in automotive components is of utmost importance, particularly in support of aggressive net zero goals put forth by automotive customers.”
Members of The Aluminum Association are eager to work with automakers on focused projects to transform manufacturing processes and deliver the vehicle solutions that will drive efficient transportation for years to come. The 2022 Roadmap for Automotive Aluminum is a unified blueprint that lays a foundation for the industry to grow and diversify within the automotive market and will serve as an actionable, living document, that will be revisited over the next decade.