The average aluminum content in 2002 model year cars and light trucks will increase to 268 pounds per vehicle, up from 255 pounds just last year, according to a report from American Metal Market (AMM), a metal trades journal.
The trend places increasing pressures on bodyshops to equip and train for aluminum repair.
Both domestic and import automakers are using more aluminum to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and enhance vehicle performance. While casting alloys make up much of the gain, AMM reports that sheet, extrusion and forging alloys are gaining acceptance in the automotive marketplace.
“As automakers gain experience designing parts for aluminum, rather than just from aluminum, even more of the performance advantages inherent in the material will be unlocked. As consumers demand increasing vehicle content that adds weight, aluminum will help compensate by maintaining or even reducing vehicle mass,” said Dr. Richard Klimisch, vice president of The Aluminum Association.
“Engineers know that aggressive weight reduction is the best way to improve fuel economy, emissions and performance. For these reasons, as well as improved corrosion resistance and recyclability, automakers are more and more turning to performance aluminum,” Klimisch added.
Automakers have known for years that aluminum improves vehicle performance, but they’ve mostly applied it to specialty vehicles. Examples include the Panoz Esperante, Acura NSX, Audi’s flagship A8 and S8 luxury sports sedans and the civilian version of GM’s HUMMER.
But in recent years, aluminum has made gains in high volume vehicles. According to AMM, some of the new aluminum production parts for 2002 are:
Front and rear bumper reinforcements on Toyota’s Highlander SUV.
The liftgates, radiator enclosures, wheels and front differential cases on the Cadillac Escalade.
Hoods and front fenders on Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.
Aluminum-intensive, four-wheel independent suspensions in the Cadillac Catera.
Radiator enclosures, front differential cases and wheels on the Chevy Avalanche.
In addition, there are many other hard parts now being made of aluminum.
I-CAR Offers New Enhanced Delivery Training Programs
I-CAR has introduced new Enhanced Delivery courses in damage analysis, heating and cooling systems, and electrical and electronics systems as the training organization looks to convert all its traditional courses by the beginning of 2003.
The Enhanced Delivery curriculum is a series of individual, modularized training programs that offer in-depth coverage of traditional and new subject areas. This allows students to choose only the segments which best fit their training needs. Enhanced Delivery programs feature knowledge and performance-based training, with an increased emphasis on hands-on exercises. Students also receive a CD-ROM which includes the textbook, instructor audio track, and video demonstrations of the classroom exercises for later review and reference.
The programs newly introduced are Damage Analysis Program 1, which focuses on estimating vehicle damage and writing a damage report; Heating and Cooling Systems Program 1, which examines the part terminology, operation, diagnosis and repair of heating and cooling systems; and Electrical & Electronics Program 1, which allows participants to construct different types of circuits and measure circuit values.
Also available are Welding and Cutting Aluminum Programs 1, 2, 3 and 4. This series provides instruction on the principles of aluminum GMA (MIG) welding in Program 1, allows students to practice a variety of welds in Program 2, and offers a hands-on welding qualification test in Program 3. Program 4 focuses on aluminum TIG welding.