The industry turf war between steel and aluminum goes on and on as automakers look for ever-lighter body materials. Some high-strength steels can match aluminum's weight advantage. But now, high-strength aluminum alloys are counterattacking.
This year, Norwegian aluminum giant Norsk Hydro unveiled its Hydro High Strength 400, an alloy developed for automakers to use on vehicle chassis and frames. It is being pitched for applications that are typically claimed by steel suppliers, such as anti-vibration components, engine mounts, door side members and front bumpers. The innovation essentially offers greater strength with thinner walls — an equation that translates to less metal in a vehicle.