Aluminum is the new buzzword in the automotive industry. The latest Range Rover and Range Rover Sport both take advantage of the lightweight material to shave huge amounts of body fat (only it's called "aluminium" over there). Audi and Jaguar have been using the stuff for years in their A8 and XJ, respectively, and now, aluminum is going mainstream, arriving on the 2015 Ford F-150.

While we're excited to see aluminum make an impact outside the premium market, its widespread adoption apparently won't come without some problems, notably in terms of supply. "There isn't an automotive manufacturer that makes vehicles in North America that we're not talking to," Tom Boney, of Novelis, the largest global supplier of aluminum sheetmetal, told The Detroit News.

According to Boney, Ford's use of aluminum on such a large scale has forced auto manufacturers in "every boardroom" to reconsider their plans following the F-150's unveiling, for one simple reason: there's not exactly enough aluminum to go around, at least in the short term. The auto industry presently only accounts for six percent of the aluminum sheet produced, but as the material is adopted by more and more brands, that figure is expected to swell to 25 percent within the next six years.

According to The Detroit News, Ford has already positioned itself to control a hefty supply of aluminum sheetmetal, while aluminum manufacturers are still working to ramp up capacity. Novelis and its major rival, Alcoa, are feverishly working to build new plants, a process Boney says takes about 30 months. Alcoa is adding two new US factories and one in Saudi Arabia.

"These are investments we are making to meet that demand," says Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery. "But most of that capacity is spoken for. The sooner you get to us, the better. I think [automakers] understand that."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 92 Comments
      knightrider_6
      • 10 Months Ago
      The shortage of aluminum is not because of automakers, but JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs etc manipulating commodities market. Look up "Aluminum Shuffle" http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/business/a-shuffle-of-aluminum-but-to-banks-pure-gold.html?_r=0
      Bill Thomas
      • 10 Months Ago
      Thanks to all the informed comments and some of the uninformed ones.
      Technoir
      • 10 Months Ago
      I hope they ll offer paintless cars with bare alu bodies.
      citroen_2cv
      • 10 Months Ago
      shortage? guys let's prevent abusive prices and hoard a lot of foil now!..ah yees is for wrapping lunch.
        applesucks12
        • 10 Months Ago
        @citroen_2cv
        What he said. Goldman and JP Morgan control huge quantities of Aluminum. There's an agreement in place about how much Aluminum can be released every day and they charge the producers huge sums of money to store it. Do a google search for Aluminium warehouse and Goldman Sacchs.
          Technoir
          • 10 Months Ago
          @applesucks12
          These Wall St firms are fleecing Americans out of their last dime. Their artificial control of prices of commodities should be outlawed! And what does the govt do? That's right, telling us that less regulation is good while pocketing cash from Goldman.
          Indubitably
          • 10 Months Ago
          @applesucks12
          ^ why? Not that I disagree with you but there is a simple solution -- don't buy their products then.
      Eleyism922
      • 10 Months Ago
      It's called a "disposable car," or "truck," in this case. It's sort of similar to "planned obsolescence." - Ford should offer to buy back their own ALU trucks in two years time, give you a new one with the one extra USB slot you'll all be crazy about, and then melt the "old" one down to build a whole new truck and charge appropriately (TOO MUCH for a truck made out of FAKE METAL). What happened to STEEL? Not good enough for you HIPSTERS? Go get an iPhone, suckers.
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Eleyism922
        See people, public education is failing us more and more everyday. Planes are made from steel, right? How about tanks? Boats? 1980 called, they have a spot for you.
        Technoir
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Eleyism922
        ***** off.
      Bruce Lee
      • 10 Months Ago
      Why would you ever buy this over a good $9000 used car?! You can get very reliable and safe used cars for that kind of money.
      Greg Aryous
      • 10 Months Ago
      Great move by Ford to lockup most of the aluminum sheet supply for the next few years will only extend their advantage in the truck market Then Super Duty n big SUVs Exped n Navi all go aluminum body in a few years to further extend Fords ad a tags n pressure GM Note: GM strategies are seriously flawed... New Silverado n Sierra trucks mkt share is down to 33% from 40% in 2011 when Ford launched EcoBoost in F150. Mid size GM trucks will only canibalize more big truck sales n errode GM profits. Then Fords big SUVs with aluminum bodies will take mkt share form Tahoe n Suburban ...
        car-a-holic
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Greg Aryous
        I wouldn't jump so eagerly. Aluminum body repair is more expensive and requires new tools and skills. Insurance will go up. And some buyers will choose other brands. Will it offset? Ehhh, I say it looks nice with great mpg probably. I might hesitate tho....
          Steve
          • 10 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic
          Agreed, As a person in the auto repair business, That was my first thought. With aluminum parts I see less repair and more just replacing with new parts and panels.
          m_2012
          • 10 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic
          Good. Who wants repaired crap anyways? Replace and recycle.
      alfredschrader
      • 10 Months Ago
      Aluminum is lighter than iron because it has 13 protons in the atomic nucleus verses 26 protons for iron. Magnesium has even less than aluminum with only 12 protons. Why does the number of protons matter ? Protons present a "target" for gravitons to impact. The bigger the target, the greater the force of gravity and inertia. If you increase the distance between the atoms, you can also reduce the target size. You can do this by arranging the atoms in a graviton matrix, a technology worth hundreds of billions of dollars and currently I own entirely.
      m_2012
      • 10 Months Ago
      Just a ploy for the aluminum industry to drive the price up.
      rex
      • 10 Months Ago
      You do know that the new miller lite F150 is only about 200 lbs less in weight than the new GM 1500s? The current f-150 is about 500 lbs over the GM. So they had to do something. Would wait on a new f-150 to see how this plays out, Like in sorry, cannot repair and have to replace body parts in short supply.
      Trent
      • 10 Months Ago
      I am not a big fan of trucks but damn that is one good looking truck! They have a lot to win and lose on this baby.
      jwc3006
      • 10 Months Ago
      The road salt will love all that aluminum-- not easy to fix bodies and frames made of aluminum.
        Jake
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jwc3006
        You should send that in to Ford. I bet their engineers have never considered any of that and think, like everyone else, that there is just one aluminum alloy and it's all the same stuff from coke cans to engine blocks.
        m_2012
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jwc3006
        Not that hard either. This is not new technology, its just been expanded to more of the vehicle. No one has a problem with jets after years of service in the harshest environments. Tanks seem to be doing well.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jwc3006
        Come on- road salt will rust through steel bodies way before it does aluminum. Most aluminum corrosion is more cosmetic than fatal anyways.
        Aaron N
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jwc3006
        Uh aluminum doesn't rust...
          EXP Jawa
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Aaron N
          No, but it does corrode. If I 'm not mistaken, aluminum corrosion is typically cosmetic, and would likely be prevented by proper paint and finishing. Road salt spray, however, would encourage a bi-metallic corrosion that would occur every place a steel part and an aluminum part come together. When that happens the aluminum starts to break down. That would be the bigger issue, and I expect Ford is well aware or the phenomena and will take measures to prevent it.
          yonomo200
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Aaron N
          "If I 'm not mistaken, aluminum corrosion is typically cosmetic, and would likely be prevented by proper paint and finishing. Road salt spray, however, would encourage a bi-metallic corrosion that would occur every place a steel part and an aluminum part come together." Worse than that. Aluminum will downright rot to pieces from salt exposure. I'm sure there will be corrosion protection applied where needed. But aluminum absolutely does not have magic corrosion resistance properties by default. It does "rust."
    • Load More Comments