Aluminium was seen as a key to offsetting the weight of the batteries to extend the range of electric vehicles making them more acceptable in the market. There has always been a tussle between steel and aluminium for market share, due to slashing of weight aluminium gains advantage and is chosen more widely as it helps to meet the government pollution standards.
Aluminium was first used by Norsk Hydro, Norway’s aluminium producer to manufacture London black cab, which was launched last year. The chief Engineer of body and structures for the firm that developed the taxi for the London Electric Vehicle Company for the firm that developed the taxi for the London Electric Vehicle Company said,
“We chose aluminium as a material as it is nearly three times lighter than steel in its raw form, and it absorbs twice as much energy in a crash,”
The demand for aluminium from electric and hybrid vehicles is forecast to increase ten times to nearly 10 million tonnes by 2030, according to CRU Consultant Eoin Dinsmore. The engine block and transmission are made up of aluminium. Additionally, the housing of battery and motor are also made up of aluminium. Therefore, the hybrids will increase the profitability for aluminium.
The cost of aluminium remains the biggest shortcoming, aluminium futures on the London Metal Exchange are around $2,050 per tonne, more than three times the cost of LME steel rebar at $585 a tonne. The price gap the aluminium and different types of steel used don’t appear to be wide but there are significant savings on switching to steel.
The switch to heavier but cheaper metal by the electric car maker Tesla jolted the industry. Even after using the lighter material for its first two luxury models, Model 3 was not a host to aluminium anymore. The steel industry has developed advanced high strength steel products which are stronger and lighter.
Mauro Erriquez, a partner at McKinsey & Company in Germany who specialises in the auto sector said,
“Before the aim was ‘Let’s get the [electric vehicles] developed’, now it’s ‘Let’s get them developed at the right price point,”
The comeback is still there in the gasoline models like the Audi A8.
Source : Euronews