Today there is one thing that everyone is clamoring about when it comes to a new car: miles per gallon. While car companies are in a frantic race to develop the first all-electric car or the best hybrid on the market, they are also looking at using aluminum as opposed to steel to manufacture the car body itself. Not only will this lighten the car and thus improve miles per gallon, but it may ultimately be safer than steel when involved in a crash.
Let’s start with the increased miles per gallon. Because aluminum is lighter and weighs considerably less than its steel counterpart, it will of course get better fuel mileage. It will also burn less carbon into the atmosphere as the drive train will not have to work as hard to propel the vehicle. But along with what everyone wants in high miles per gallon, aluminum can offer something that some may not expect; increased safely.
Unlike ridged steel, aluminum can be designed to “fold” a certain way upon impact. With this advantage, engineers can design the cars so that the cars themselves and not their drivers absorb most of the impact.
It is for this reason that the all-aluminum Audi A8 received a perfect five star safety rating from federal safety regulators. But another interesting advantage occurs because of the use of the lighter weight material; more space becomes an option (source: greencar.com).
Again, when it comes to increasing the miles per gallon in any vehicle, weight is a primary factor. Most cars that are made of the heavier steel will reduce the size of the car and the “cock-pit” that the occupants sit in so that they can save weight.
With aluminum there is no need to reduce the size of the car as the weight is already considerably less. A bigger car and “cock-pit” not only provide for a more comfortable ride, but a safer one as well as a bigger car is of course going to fare better in a crash when compared to a smaller one.
When you take all those factors into consideration you begin to see the possibilities for today’s hybrids. They already boast wonderful miles per gallon and with the lighter weight of aluminum could be built to be a nice big luxurious ride with added space and safety. This can be accomplished without sacrificing the good gas mileage.
It is not a matter of if the auto industry is going towards aluminum it is simply a matter of when. The sooner the better as far as I am concerned. There seems to be many applications for aluminum that there simply isn’t with steel. It will increase our miles per gallon, give us a more comfortable ride and keep us safer; what more could we ask for?