Car makers are going to use more and more aluminium, because it is a lighter and yet strong metal. The problem with it is that it’s very energy intensive to produce, which is why Audi Hungaria manages the material in a recycling loop. This helps cut down on costs and reduces production waste significantly.
Aluminium is a great choice for cars. It is relatively durable and strong, but it is also quite light – much lighter than steel. Weight is everything for cars. Lighter cars can be more efficient, faster and nicer to drive. Electric cars are pretty heavy, because batteries are heavy. Reducing the weight of the body is very important to maintain at least somewhat reasonable weight of the vehicle. And aluminium helps to do that, which is why it is going to be used more and more in the automotive industry. An extra advantage of aluminium alloys is that they do not rust – they are easier to protect from corrosion.
Aluminium has its disadvantages too. It’s more expensive than steel and is pretty energy intensive to produce. The latter problem is very important now as manufacturing companies are trying to shift towards sustainable production. Audi Hungaria is making continuous efforts to decarbonize its site. Alfons Dintner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi Hungaria, said: “We are not only reducing factory CO2 emissions, but are also implementing measures that transcend the plant’s grounds to reduce our carbon footprint. These include reforestation in the surrounding area, optimized logistics processes and supporting our suppliers with sustainable solutions. Our motivation is the Volkswagen and Audi Group’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Closing the loop on aluminium is very important. Audi gets rolls of sheet aluminium, which can then be stamped into various different body panels for Audi vehicles. This process leaves a lot of off-cuts, which are then collected and sent back to the metal provider. They are then recycled to produce secondary raw materials of original quality. Audi says that production of this secondary aluminum enables net energy savings of up to 95 % compared with the original product. This is because those off-cuts are already very high quality aluminium and don’t really have to be refined any more. This means that cars that leave Audi Hungaria factories are set up for a more sustainable life cycle from the very beginning.
Metals are great because they are recyclable fairly easily. And they are recycled – not much metal at all ends up in landfills. However, in many factories offcuts end up in a scrap pile and get recycled with other kinds of used metal. This is unbelievably wasteful, which is why car manufacturers should move towards closed loop metal supply organizations.