Aluminum Reduces Costs for Electric Vehicles
A new study conducted by Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen for the European Aluminium Association and the International Aluminum Institute found that despite the fact that aluminum costs more than steel, a complete electric vehicle can be less costly when built with a significant amount of aluminum rather than conventional steel.
The study, as reported by Green Car Congress, suggests that automakers could offset the cost of aluminum by utilizing a lower capacity battery pack, since the aluminum vehicle weighs less than its steel counterpart. In other words, range is not sacrificed due to weight reductions garnered through the use of aluminum. The savings, estimated at $829 per vehicle, is significant as automakers consistently seek out savings of even a few cents on certain parts that go into production vehicles.
In the study, researchers converted a conventional vehicle into an EV. This baseline vehicle, with its steel unibody still intact, was fully tested before going on an aluminum diet. The team of researchers adapted an aluminum space frame to the electric vehicle, skinned the body in aluminum and replaced all steel components with aluminum where possible. The ability to meet crash test standards determined exactly how much steel could be replaced by the less crash-worthy aluminum.
The end result was an aluminum electric vehicle that weighed 357 pounds lighter than it steel electric counterpart. As a result, the vehicle's battery capacity could be reduced by 3.3 kWh while maintaining the original 124 miles of range. The use of a lower capacity battery could further reduce weight by 55 pounds, making the aluminum electric vehicle 412 pounds lighter than the steel electric reference vehicle and cutting total costs by $1,324 per vehicle. The figures are based on production volume of 100,000 units annually—well beyond the current scale of production for any EV-maker.
New to EVs? Start here
What Is An Electric Car?
Before we get going, let's establish basic definitions.
A Quick Guide to Plug-in Hybrids
Some plug-in cars have back-up engines to extend driving range.
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Federal and Local Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Eight Factors Determining Total Cost of Ownership of an Electric Car
EVs get bad rap as expensive. Until you look at TCO.
Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
Electric Car Utility Rate Plans: Top Five Rules
With the right utility plan, electric fuel can be dirt cheap.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.