With just about every car manufacturer attempting to make their cars more economical, it’s not uncommon to find that many new models are made using aluminium. It’s much, much lighter than the steel that most vehicles are made from, which means far better efficiency. The question is; if aluminium is so beneficial, why don’t all cars use it?
Possibly the biggest factor is cost. Aluminium is more expensive than the steel equivalent, which naturally increases the price of the car. With price such a big selling point for a vehicle, aluminium is not something manufacturers can afford to use on everyday cars. It’s no coincidence that marques such as Audi, Land Rover and Jaguar are the ones that often use the lighter metal. It’s reflected in the cost to the end user.
Aluminium is more difficult to use than steel for a variety of reasons. The main one is that it is harder to press into shape. It is more vulnerable to tearing or cracking in the process, which can potentially cause unnecessary waste, and makes the production line less reliable or slower. Precision equipment, such as offered by SGS Engineering, would be required by repair shops, and panel beaters may need to use different techniques.
As cars get older, the chances are that welding will be required at some point. Aluminium is harder to weld, and not all garages are familiar with the technology and methods required to do it successfully. This means that simple MOT repairs can become a major difficulty. The counter-argument however, is that aluminium does not rust like steel, so is likely to be a lot more reliable in the long run.
Some may claim of course, that giving a car’s body a lifespan, means that it will eventually have to be replaced, meaning more profits for carmakers.
Because aluminium isn’t as widespread as steel, its safety capabilities aren’t as widely understood as with steel. Naturally, this means that manufacturers are more likely to stick with what’s tried and tested. This isn’t to say that aluminium isn’t as safe as steel, because in many cases, it’s actually the stronger metal, but it does require more research and development. This in turn drives up costs.