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Metal Casting Technologies : June 2009
LIGHT METALS FEATURE tals As the future of the global automotive industry quickly shifts to more fuelefficient products, vehicles around the world will be manufactured with a variety of solutions and powertrain improvements. Material experts and body engineers surveyed in the Aluminum Association study expect 25 per cent of fuel economy improvement to come from weight savings, while powertrain experts predict that 50 per cent of the improvements will be the result of weight reduction. In particular, the study suggests that nearly one half of all 2009 models will have at least one pair of aluminium steering knuckles. Local stimulus Back in December the Victorian Government launched its $6.7 million action plan to help Victoria’s automotive manufacturing sector create new business opportunities and invest in new technologies. The Government said the Victorian Automotive Manufacturing Action Plan (VAMAP) would provide a roadmap for the local automotive industry through to 2013 and establish the groundwork for sustained growth. The new action plan formed part of the $245 million Building Our Industries for the Future package and is underpinned by three elements: ● a business development program to develop the international competitiveness of companies at all levels of the supply chain; ● identification of opportunities and facilitation of access by Victorian firms into global supply chains; and ● investment in new technologies including hybrids and alternative fuels. The initiatives will be focused on developing the next generation of capability and components for new programs such as the Toyota Hybrid Camry and the Ford Focus. Whilst the policy detail has not been outlined yet, the Government said the funds would be directed to assist component companies in prototype, design, proving capability to develop new technology and to work with research institutions. Victoria’s automotive manufacturing sector accounts for more than 60 per cent of the national industry and employs around 35,000 people. Accounting for $2 million of the Government’s commitment to VAMAP is for product and process innovation. This is the area most likely to benefit the development of cast light metals products, although the Government is “not going to be material specific in technological development areas”, said a spokesperson from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development. “Emphasis is on innovative technologies that may include light metals but may include plastics,” he said. MATERIAL EXPERTS AND BODY ENGINEERS SURVEYED IN THE ALUMINUM ASSOCIATION STUDY EXPECT 25 PER CENT OF FUEL ECONOMY IMPROVEMENT TO COME FROM WEIGHT SAVINGS... METAL Casting Technologies June 2009 13