New Aluminum XJ 'Body-in-White' Shown at Industry Event
October 27, 2002

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For the first time in North America, Jaguar today exhibited the aluminium "body-in-white" for its new flagship XJ sedan at the 23rd Annual Automotive Aluminum Design and Fabrication Seminar. In addition to Jaguar, the seminar -- sponsored by The Aluminum Association -- featured speakers from General Motors, BMW, Alcan, Alcoa and elsewhere to discuss recent gains in aluminium design and how this benefits the auto industry and consumers. Themed "Aluminum: Building a Better Car," the event also included in-depth technical presentations for nearly 500 assembled automotive engineers and designers.

"We chose a lightweight vehicle architecture for the new XJ not because it was something new, but because it enabled us to deliver real and significant benefits to our customers," said Mark White, Manager, Body-in-White Design, Body and Trim Engineering of Jaguar Cars Limited.

"Jaguar has proven that advanced automotive aluminum designs translate to performance benefits for the consumer," remarked Dr. Richard Klimisch, vice president of The Aluminum Association. "Thanks to aluminum, the new XJ sedan is longer, taller and wider, but 440 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. The chassis is 40 percent lighter as compared to steel, yet it is 60 percent stiffer. The combination of low weight and increased stiffness makes the XJ surprisingly agile for a car of its size -- and the larger size is an added safety benefit for drivers."

Also speaking at the event, Gunther Weigl, Project Manager, Predevelopment of Aluminum Structures, BMW, addressed the performance benefits of reducing vehicle weight with aluminium.

"Weight savings potential in steel body structures and hang-ons are not sufficient," Weigl said. "BMW is investigating lightweight materials for body structures to help keep its lead in driving performance."

Dr. Alan Taub, Executive Director, Science, GM Research and Development, detailed the automaker's increased use of aluminium in present and future models.

"We're starting to see more promise for low volume applications of aluminum [for body structures]," said Taub.

According to Klimisch, such trends towards greater aluminium use can be attributed to three specific advantages: environmental, safety and driving performance.

In terms of environmental performance:

-- It's no coincidence that the most fuel-efficient vehicle on U.S. roads today -- the 70 mpg Honda Insight -- is all aluminum.

-- A six to eight percent fuel savings can be realized for every ten percent weight reduction by substituting aluminium for heavier steel. Lighter vehicles also emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

-- Nearly 90 percent of automotive aluminium is currently recovered and recycled.

In terms of safety performance:

-- It's no coincidence that the Audi A8 -- which earned a top five-star federal crash test rating and was ranked as the world's safest sedan by the Wall Street Journal -- is all aluminium.

-- Pound for pound, aluminium can be up to two-and-a-half times as strong as traditional steel and absorbs up to twice as much crash energy.

-- Aluminium structures can be designed to fold predictably during a car crash, so the vehicle's structure -- not the passengers -- absorbs more of the crash energy.

In terms of driving performance:

-- It's no coincidence that top performance cars like the Ferrari Modena 360, Acura NSX, Aston Martin Vanquish and, coming soon, the new Ford GT all use aluminium to enhance vehicle performance.

-- All other factors being equal, cars made lighter with aluminium can accelerate faster and brake quicker than heavier counterparts.

"Today, top auto and aluminium executives, as well as hundreds of leading automotive engineers and designers, came together to discuss one thing: how aluminium can build a better car. By providing the platform to exchange views and share the latest technical information, the aluminum industry continues to serve as a vital resource for automakers as they design next-generation cars and trucks that are safe, affordable, environmentally friendly and fun to drive," concluded Klimisch.


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