Opinion

Aluminium — The EV manufacturers’ dream metal

RK Jain | Updated on June 16, 2021

Aluminium The green metal   -  JazzIRT

Policy incentives and technological advancements are going to guide the manufacturing and adoption of EVs or Electric Vehicles in a big way.

Electric vehicles are set to push the demand for aluminium exponentially, with innovation in products being the focus of the downstream aluminium sector.

According to government data, from 69,012 units in 2017-18, EV sales zoomed to 1,67,041 units in 2019-20.

Two-wheelers have led this growth.

Making it drive

Making the EV story successful is aluminium, both used in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and also in creating the necessary charging infrastructure. A higher performance metal, the push for EVs is adding importance to the role that this light and sturdy metal will play.

From helping vehicle manufacturers in reducing vehicle weight to improving the efficiency of conventional vehicles or to better the range of electric vehicles, aluminium extrusions are an increasing part of the solution.

This is an opportune moment for the downstream aluminium sector — which is an old partner of the automobile industry and finds its use in the making of a vehicle body, doors, trunks, hoods, bumpers, crash boxes, brakes, cables, wheels, etc. — to increase its overall usage.

However, bringing about innovation in production is the need of the hour for the Indian downstream aluminium manufacturers. Innovation in production is also crucial to raise the average quantity of aluminium used per vehicle from India’s average of 29 kg per vehicle to global usage standards of 160 kg or 250 kg as predicted for use in EVs in time to come.

Automobiles with aluminium bodies are costlier than other metals . This poses as one of the major obstacles to the aluminium market. This will be addressed once the demand for EVs picks up and costs are lowered.

As the government introduces policies that require vehicles to bring out fuel-efficient variants, fuel-saving, carbon emission, costs, including repair are areas where the downstream aluminium sector has an important role to play.

Innovation is needed and is already being done at various levels. For instance, in meeting the EV demand, the automobile industry is looking at major changes in vehicle manufacturing that will focus on improved combustion, calibration, injection, and cylinder pressure. Downstream aluminium suppliers are meeting the needs through extrusions and rolling by using technology and innovation.

New applications of downstream aluminium include lightweight battery casings and heat exchangers, besides overall structural integration. Offering a higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to other metals, the ability to absorb a larger amount of crash energy, and ensuring that vehicular performance enhancements do not come at the cost of safety is what downstream aluminium offers to the automobile industry.

All this, and the ease with which aluminium fits into creating simple and intricate shapes giving an elegant finish to the vehicle, make it an automaker’s dream metal. Thus, not only will this innovation in material supplied lead to light-weighting, lowering costs, and meeting the commitments of going green, it will, through EVs, now offer a higher per-unit usage of downstream aluminium products in automobiles.

The writer is Senior Vice-President – Commercial at Jindal Aluminium Ltd

Published on June 16, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor