Electric Vehicles to Transform Aluminum Demand by 2035
A recent survey done by WardsAuto and DuPont Automobile revealed that aluminum is the preferred material of choice among engineers and designers looking to improve the fuel economy and emissions of automobiles and light truck. Analysts are also suggesting that aluminum is entering growth phase and will remain the fastest automotive material over competing material, such as steel.
Most of the demand in the auto industry is coming from electric vehicles (EV), which are entering the market sooner than expected. Aside from their affordability, what’s driving the demand for these vehicles is the range. To achieve optimal range for a given battery, weight reduction of EVs in needed. Automakers are turning to aluminum to help them achieve their goals to help them reduce the weight of vehicles.
Electric Vehicles Market is Growing Rapidly
Over 100 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) models have been announced for release by the world’s leading automakers by 2024. This has the potential to raise the share of EVs among passenger-vehicle sales to 30-35% in countries like China, Europe, and the United States by 2030, according to McKinsey and A2Mac1.
BHP Billiton is also estimating that there will be approximately 140 million EVs on the road by 2035 (this does not include hybrid vehicles). This will come out to about 8 % of the total fleet of 1.8 billion cars projected for that year. When you compare these numbers to the number of EVs available today (12 million), the increase is substantial.
What Opportunities will EV Demand Create for Aluminum?
It is predicted that demand for aluminum will increase to nearly 10 million tonnes; a ten-fold raise from the numbers we saw in 2017. Most of it will have to do with the spike in the number of Electric Vehicles (EV) in the next 15 years.
The problem with electric vehicles today is that they are more expensive than traditional vehicles; mainly because of the cost of batteries. Automakers are therefore striving to make the vehicles as energy efficient as possible to turn them into hot commodities.
Lightweighting is one method automakers are using to improve the energy efficiency of their including electric ones. However, lightweighting comes at a cost. The raw material used (e.g., steel, aluminum) is often more expensive than heavier classical materials.
Aluminum is the only material available today that is able to satisfy automakers’ goal for energy efficiency as well as consumer’s need to drive affordable vehicles. Although sourcing raw aluminum for purposes of lightweighting is expensive, recycled aluminum is one option for them to consider.
As you already know, aluminum is a recyclable metal and there is plenty of it in supply. It is the third most abundant element on earth; after oxygen and silicon. As well, it can be infinitely recycled. No matter how many times you recycle aluminum it will never lose its quality. So even though raw aluminum is expensive and can increase the costs of electric vehicles, automakers are still able to use the recycled counterparts to bring their costs down and ensure affordability.
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