In car manufacturing, the lightweight construction concepts of the future would be unthinkable without aluminium. All participants of the 3rd European Aluminium Congress 2013 (EAC) were in complete agreement about that. Organized by the Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie e.V. in Düsseldorf (GDA), the EAC which was held at the end of November 2013 was the meeting-place of the year for lightweight construction experts from the global automotive and aluminium industry.
Under the main theme of “Aluminium Automotive Applications – Tomorrow’s Design and Sustainable Performance”, more than 200 experts from the semis industry and from automotive parts suppliers and OEMs, such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda or Jaguar, as well as suppliers from the area of plant construction or surface engineering, met to discuss new developments related to aluminium in automobile manufacturing. Apart from the various uses of aluminium in vehicle manufacturing, further developments that have the potential to make vehicles of the future even lighter and more energy efficient were also presented at the EAC 2013.
A repeating theme of the keynote addresses was the fact that aluminium has become an indispensable material in the motor car: In his keynote address, “Automotive – the key market for the aluminium industry”, GDA president Heinz-Peter Schlüter described the excellent potential still available for even more use of aluminium in the automobile. “Our material is far from having reached the zenith of its development, but it has already demonstrated that effective lightweight construction in the car is inseparable from the material aluminium,” said Schlüter.
In his keynote address “Body-in-White Lightweight Design at Mercedes-Benz; Effects on the Material and Assembly Concepts by the example of the new S Class”, Jürgen Bösselman of DAIMLER AG - Mercedes-Benz Research and Development described the effects that lightweight body construction has had on material and manufacturing concepts at Mercedes-Benz.
“Efficient lightweight construction from a holistic perspective” was the centre of focus of the presentation of Jean-Marc Ségaud from the BMW lightweight metal foundry in Landshut. “The revolutionary approach of new kinds of body concepts is prompting enormous structural investments in the body shell. For all lightweight construction work done in body manufacturing it is important to keep an eye on the feasibility and consequences in the overall process chain. The evolutionary approach of material substitution allows continued use of available body shell structures, but limits lightweight construction potential,” summarized Jean-Marc Ségaud.
Michael Lough, Jaguar Land Rover Product Development, presented “The aluminium architecture of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport”. The British luxury vehicle is the first SUV in the world to have a fully aluminium body structure, which is considerably lighter, more efficient and more sustainable than conventional solutions.
In his presentation “Material Choice for Future Cars and its Impact on the Life Cycle Assessment”, Dr. Christoph Haberling, Head of Environmental Products & Materials Technology at AUDI AG, pointed out the influence consistent lightweight construction with modern composite structures has on the life cycle assessment as a whole of future cars.