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Aluminum Frenzy Still On The Up-rise Part II

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Japan’s Kobe Steel is in talks with Toyota Tsusho Corp., a trading company affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., to form a joint venture to make automotive-grade aluminum sheet metal in the United States.

In April, Novelis Inc. broke ground for an automotive sheet metal line at its plant in Nachterstedt, Germany.

Outside of Ford, other mass-produced aluminum-intensive vehicles on the road or on the way include:

• Jaguar’s new XE compact sports sedan: Scheduled to begin production next year and reach the United States in 2016, the car will compete against the Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Cadillac ATS, Mercedes-Benz C class and numerous Asian luxury cars.

• Tesla Model X and small sedan: The Model X crossover is the next Tesla aluminum-bodied vehicle to begin production, which kicks off in late summer 2015. The following year, a new small aluminum sedan is scheduled. Tesla’s lone production vehicle, the Model S, sold 6,457 units globally in the first quarter, up from 4,900 a year ago.

• Chevrolet Corvette: The sports car, redesigned for the 2014 model year, uses an aluminum frame that weighs 360 pounds. It is on track to sell more than 36,000 units in 2014, more than double 2013’s volume of about 17,000.

• Range Rover and Range Rover Sport: Jaguar Land Rover will build about 100,000 of the aluminum-bodied SUVs this year, about the same as last year. The company is working on plans to boost capacity in 2015, the company says.

• 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickups. Due this fall, the pickups will have aluminum hoods.

General Motors is expected to decide within a year whether it will use aluminum bodies on the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, due around 2018. GM has developed aluminum welding technology that could simplify bonding and riveting.

 

Todd Sudeck

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