By Mohammed Almutawa – Group CEO of Ducab

All of the world is aiming to reduce carbon emissions; governments are supporting zero-emission vehicles through subsidies and tax reductions. Because of this, by 2030, aluminium demand from electric vehicles (EVs) will be near ten million tonnes, a ten-fold increase from 2017. The usage of primary aluminium-intensive, extrusions and rolled products will be significantly higher than we see in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles today.

In the future, EVs will support primary aluminium demand and enforce a limit on scrap demand.

Aluminium usage to rise by 15-27% in electric vehicles

Plug-in hybrid and full battery electric vehicles use 25-27% more aluminium than the typical Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car today. This translates to 160kg of aluminium per vehicle for aluminium content in internal combustion engines.

Increases in aluminium usage in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars is mainly because of the light-weighting benefits of aluminium. This was clearly the reason for Ford’s F-150 switch to aluminium, triggering much of the move from steel to aluminium-bodied cars.

The way aluminium is used in electric vehicles is going to be essential to bringing that figure down in the coming years. Developers are already striving to make cars that are made up of 80% aluminium, following the same path as the aviation industry. They are looking at the role it plays beyond just the chassis.

However, there are other reasons and applications as to why EVs see increased use of aluminium in body sheet:

  • E-drive: including housing for e-motors, DC-AC inverters, DC-DC converters, chargers, heat pumps and reduction drives.
  • Batteries and battery housing: covering battery casing for prismatic batteries, battery foil and battery housing. Battery housing is the biggest volume element of this market. Car makers are yet to decide the standard for battery housing, and we incorporate a combination of predominantly steel housing (Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Nissan Leaf BEV), cast aluminium battery housing (Audi PHEVs) and a combination of extrusions and rolled products (Tesla Model S).

Aluminium extruders are hoping for their F-150 moment, which pushed aluminium body sheet into the mainstream. EVs, and specifically battery housing, give the largest potential upside to aluminium extrusions usage in EVs.

Image source: Courtesy of Ducab

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