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North American automotive industry's aluminum usage to spike: Novelis exec

San Diego — Per-vehicle aluminum content of North American passenger vehicles will hit 565 lb by 2028, a 42% increase since 2015, a Novelis North America executive said Monday. By comparison, aluminum accounted for just 84 lb/vehicle in 1975, said Ganesh Panneer, Novelis NA's vice president and general manager-automotive, citing research by automotive consulting firm Ducker Worldwide.

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Panneer, speaking during the S&P Global Platts Aluminum Symposium in San Diego, said automakers have increasingly looked to aluminum to decrease overall vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency. And that need to cut weight has become even more acute with the electric revolution transforming the automotive industry, he said.

"Everything you add to the vehicle adds weight," Panneer said. "That's where [aluminum's] value position comes in."

Novelis has focused on collaborating with automakers and OEMs to develop sheet products and components that enable them to achieve weight-reduction targets, he said.

The aluminum producer, whose material will be in 51% of North American vehicles made in 2020, has launched plans for three global "customer solution centers" aimed at fostering joint product innovation. The first center - focused on vehicle closures - was formed in Michigan, and two others will launch in Germany and China, focused on body structures and electric vehicles, Panneer said.

"We believe there's strong demand [for automotive aluminum], and we want to take advantage of it in in the best possible way," Panneer said.

In addition to initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of aluminum used in automobiles, companies such as Novelis have also focused on boosting the amount of recycled high-value auto scrap captured and increasing recycled content in vehicle production.

Panneer said efforts to ensure end-users boost their recycling rates can pay big dividends. For instance, Ford could produce 34,000 F-150 trucks per month with the amount of aluminum it reuses via a closed loop recycling process, he said. -- Christopher Davis, chris.davis@spglobal.comnewsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com