By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The amount of light, recyclable aluminum in European cars will rise to 180 kg on average by 2020 as automakers look to cut harmful carbon emissions, a senior metals industry official said.
Global targets to curb greenhouse gases are prompting a shift to aluminum away from other, heavier metals such as steel.
Aluminum use is expected to rise to 180 kg per car on average from 140 kg in 2012, with long-term growth coming from rolling sheet and extrusion components, said Gerd Gotz, director general of industry body European Aluminium, citing a new study confirming forecasts it made in 2012.
"This will be the growth engine of the aluminum downstream industry,” Gotz told Reuters at an aluminum conference in Cape Town.
Under 2015 European Commission mandatory targets, manufacturers were to ensure the cars they produce emit no more than 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer on average.
By 2021, that fleet average is to fall to 95 grams per km, with emission limits based on the mass of a car.
Carmakers, including Mercedes Benz <DAIGn.DE>, Audi, Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> and Peugeot <PEUP.PA>, are expected to use more aluminum in parts ranging from doors to engines.
Heavier, luxury car models are driving the trend in Europe at the moment, Gotz said, although this is expected to filter down to smaller models.
"The cars will not land in a landfill anymore and you will be able to re-use the aluminum again and again," he said.
The United States uses a footprint model that considers a car's size and engine efficiency while in Europe emission profiles are based only on a vehicle's mass.
"Mass-based regulations in Europe is not giving the same incentive for light weighting as in the U.S.," Gotz noted.
"When you come to a footprint-based regulation you really bring down the CO2 curve in both weight and engine efficiency,” he said, adding that the industry body wants the footprint model adopted in Europe.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Pratima Desai and Jason Neely)