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When the best-selling US truck sheds the equivalent weight of three football fullbacks by shifting to aluminum, folks start paying attention. Oak Ridge National Laboratory took a closer look at whether the reduced fuel consumption from a lighter aluminum body makes up for the fact that producing aluminum is far more energy intensive than steel. And the results of the study are pretty encouraging.

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Americans, on average, have gained enough weight during the past 40 years to cancel out automakers' vehicle-lightweighting efforts such as using lighter components or removing spare tire, reflecting an additional challenge automakers face to meet progressively more strict fuel-economy and greenhouse-gas emissions standards. The information comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a recent Automotive News report.

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With the 2025 CAFE target set at 54.5 miles per gallon, the race to develop fuel-efficient vehicles is on. According to Frost & Sullivan, this race to 54.5 will necessitate a healthy dose of lightweight automotive components.

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2011 Ford F-150 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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