North American demand for lightweight automotive materials to reach 22.3 billion lbs.

June 20, 2014

Demand for lightweight automotive materials in the North American light-vehicle market is anticipated to rise 5.2 percent annually to 22.3 billion lbs. in 2018. Regulatory pressure will be the major force propelling growth, as the current race to lighten the automobile is largely being driven by the increasingly strict fuel economy standards being adopted throughout North America.

These and other trends are presented in “Lightweight Automotive Materials in North America,” a new study available for a fee from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based market research firm.

The best growth prospects are forecast for exterior and structural components, propelled by the ongoing development of lightweight materials suitable for use in structural applications and the substantial weight savings such materials can provide. In fact, this segment will account for nearly three-fourths of total average vehicle weight reduction through 2023, with body and frame applications accounting for about half.

Aluminum and high-strength steel are the primary lightweight materials employed in this market. The use of aluminum will grow rapidly in exterior and structural applications, as automakers explore the adoption of this material in place of steel for body components such as closures and panels. High-strength steel is predicted to offer the best opportunities for growth based on its relatively low cost and the ongoing development of new grades that provide a combination of strength and formability, which will make it the material of choice for structure and frame applications.