A recent article published by Automotive News and quoting a BMW source, mentions the increased use of aluminum in future BMWs. Looking to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency, automakers around the world, including BMW, have begun using aluminum in the structure of their cars. Aluminum fits the bill as it is lighter than steel and sustainable because it can be recycled.
“The most significant changes were the introduction of aluminum doors and hoods in some models as well as casted structural components. The application of aluminum varies significantly between different models. As an example for a typical BMW premium car the new 5 series has aluminum parts totaling up to almost 20 percent of the vehicle weight”, said Frank Wienstroth, who oversees BMW’s communications on the supply chain and sustainability.
Use of lighter aluminum also leads to other savings such as less wear and tear.
Next year, BMW will launch their first production 5 Series Hybrid vehicle which will make extensive use of aluminum.
Despite aluminum becoming more popular in car’s construction, steel remains an important metal in BMW vehicles, accounting for 40 percent of the weight and the company does not expect that to change in the upcoming years. As seen in the upcoming F10 BMW M5, the car’s construction will be a hybrid of an aluminum spaceframe for the front section and a traditional steel monocoque for the passenger compartment and rear.
“The lightweight strategies depend on the vehicle segment and the type of drive. In higher segments and for electric cars a more extensive use of lightweight parts is to be expected,” Wienstroth said.
On the subject of lighter, higher strength steel, BMW said: “Regarding cost optimization in weight reduction the weight advantage of aluminum can be equalized by new steel characteristics at lower material costs.”
As Automotive News reports as well, automakers have been always worried about the unstable aluminum price and its influence over cars’ pricing.[Source: Autonews ]