Technical Whitepaper: Environment
Automotive aluminum use has doubled in the last decade, and is increasingly the material of
choice for automakers as they address growing concerns about the environment.
Aluminum allows manufacturers to maintain the size of their vehicles while reducing weight and
improving fuel economy. Improved fuel economy reduces greenhouse gases from motor vehicles.
In addition, automotive aluminum is highly recycled due to the high value of aluminum scrap, and
the use of recycled aluminum for motor vehicles provides additional environmental benefits.
Today, nearly two-thirds of the aluminum used in automotive applications is recycled metal.
Key points discussed in this paper include:
• Vehicle lightweighting through increased aluminum use can greatly improve fuel
• Greenhouse gas reductions result from aluminum’s ability to improve fuel economy.
• Lifecycle analyses demonstrate reduced CO2 emissions from greater auto aluminum
• Aluminum’s high recyclability is good for the environment.
• The aluminum industry is continuing to make environmental improvements in its
Weight Reduction and Fuel Economy
Automakers have studied the relationship between vehicle mass and fuel economy for decades.
The majority of studies to date conclude that for every 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight
there will be a corresponding 6 to 8 percent decrease in fuel usage.
In recent years manufacturers have concluded that, in order to keep vehicle size, but lose the
weight, they need to use high-strength, low-weight materials. This is especially important in
today’s market with steadily increasing demand for light trucks, minivans and sport-utility vehicles.
Aluminum provides a high-technology solution. One pound of aluminum typically replaces two
pounds of conventional metals, resulting in dramatic weight savings without compromising safety.
The resultant fuel savings can significantly lower the operating costs of the vehicle