DETROIT, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Reflecting the fast-rising importance of aluminum to the automotive industry, leading aluminum companies -- for the first time ever -- joined forces to create a major presence at the Society of Automotive Executives' just concluded international conference, SAE 2000. As part of an Aluminum Association exhibit, technical experts from aluminum companies and the association met with hundreds of automotive and supply industry representatives to exchange information about the latest aluminum applications and discuss how automakers can make even greater use of aluminum's inherent safety and environmental advantages. "Our automotive customers told us that they want more aluminum options and a united aluminum industry that is supportive and forward-thinking in its approach to addressing core technical issues -- and we are stepping-up to the challenge," said Dr. Richard Klimsich, Vice President of The Aluminum Association's Detroit office. "Our work at SAE 2000 is just one example of how we are unifying the aluminum industry, raising it's profile and aggressively seeking out automotive customers to better meet their materials needs." In addition to the SAE outreach effort, Klimisch pointed to the on-going work of the Auto Aluminum Alliance, the leading role aluminum is playing in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) and the launching of The Aluminum Association's new Detroit operations as evidence of the aluminum industry's commitment to supporting automakers as they develop next-generation cars and trucks. Klimisch noted that the worldwide use of automotive aluminum, which is the fastest-growing component in new cars and trucks, is expected to climb by 2.5 million metric tons, or more than 55 percent, in just the next five years. He attributed the metal's rapid growth to its superior crash absorption abilities for enhancing safety, combined with its ability to make vehicles lighter, without making them smaller -- a key advantage for making roomy, safe cars and light trucks with increased fuel economy. The Aluminum Association's SAE 2000 exhibit displayed examples of innovative uses of aluminum that currently benefit automakers and consumer alike. Highlights included body panels from the Lincoln LS (Motor Trend's "Car of the Year"), an aluminum space frame from the Ferrari 360 Modena (one of the world's premier performance cars), a Chevy Suburban aluminum liftgate (which is easier for consumers to open and close), two Ford Ranger hoods (which weigh as much as a single steel hood), and numerous aluminum wheels, bumpers, engine cradles and other components. Klimisch added, "The advanced, cost-effective aluminum technologies on display at SAE 2000 all demonstrate a central fact: aluminum helps build a better car." In terms of safety advantages, aluminum can absorb twice as much crash energy as steel (pound for pound), which helps vehicles -- not their passengers -- absorb more of the crash forces associated with auto accidents. Aluminum can also help auto engineers design larger front- and rear-end crumple zones without adding unnecessary weight. In terms of environmental advantages, aluminum does not rust and can make vehicles lighter, so they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use less fuel per mile, an especially important advantage as gas prices continue their steady climb. Klimisch concluded, "The new breed of automobile promises to be safer, more fuel efficient and even more exciting to drive, and the future looks strong, bright and shiny -- it looks like aluminum." The Aluminum Association, based in Detroit, MI and Washington, DC, represents U.S. producers of primary and secondary aluminum, as well as fabricated and semi-fabricated products. Member companies operate approximately 200 plants in 35 states.
SOURCE Aluminum Association