Alcoa’s automotive marketing director Randall Scheps told delegates at the CRU North American Aluminum Trends Conference in Miami last week that aluminium use in auto body sheet is the new growth area.

He told delegates aluminium was the ideal solution for automotive use because of its light weight.

Mr Scheps, who is also chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Transportation Group, said the amount of aluminium in automotive will grow from 7Mt today to 18Mt by 2020.

It improves fuel economy, has lower CO2 emissions over its lifecycle, is as safe as steel, brings better driving dynamics and is capital friendly for automakers.

Automotive is the best growth story the aluminium industry has going, he stated, as it replaces steel in vehicles.

The auto body area was traditionally a steel strong point but because of aluminium’s light weight it is taking over, particularly in the body structure area. The body is the heart of the car and represents 35% of a car’s weight. Today it is almost 99% steel but aluminium castings are beginning to displace it.

In 2011 215kt of body sheet was sold as a result of this growth but this is expected to jump to 1.5Mt by 2020.

“This is unprecedented in the history of aluminium,” said Mr Scheps. “A 1.3Mt rise in sheet demand in nine years is quite something.”

The industry is meeting this challenge with new capacity being added to meet the number.

Aluminium is gaining the share at the expense of steel. While steel does have High Strength Steel it cannot reduce the same amount of weight in a vehicle as aluminium can.