You are here

SUBSCRIBE to the Fact of the Week

As automakers strive to improve fuel economy, they have turned increasingly to lightweight materials to reduce overall vehicle weight. For example, most light vehicle engine blocks are now made of aluminum rather than cast iron, and in many cases, aluminum wheels have replaced heavier steel wheels as standard equipment. Use of regular steel has declined by over 250 lb per vehicle from 1995 to 2014 while the use of high- and medium-strength steels has increased by 325 lb per vehicle. The increased use of high- and medium-strength steel is significant because it allows manufacturers to improve the structural integrity of vehicles while keeping the overall vehicle weight to a minimum. The use of plastics and composites has also increased by almost 40% and lightweight magnesium castings have seen greater use in dashboards and other interior applications such as seat components, replacing the heavier steel components that were previously used.

Average Materials Content of Light Vehicles, 1995-2014

Graphic showing average materials content of light vehicles from 1995-2014. See Excel dataset for Fact of the Week #980 for details of the graphic.