Over the last few years, the federal government has been pressuring automakers to produce more efficient vehicles. In fact, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will impose new fuel economy standards in the near future. In an effort to meet these strict gas mileage standards, car manufacturers are beginning to use stronger, lighter materials. This means that salvage yards are likely to experience a significant increase in profits.
Less weight usually equates to an increase in fuel efficiency. In the past, vehicles were primary made of steel. While traditional steel is affordable and durable, the extra weight tends to have a negative impact on an automobile’s fuel economy. This has prompted today’s automakers to seek materials that are lighter. Some of the alternative materials include carbon fiber, advanced high-strength steel, aluminum, and various types of plastic. With the exception of carbon fiber, all of these materials can be easily recycled. When an individual is looking to repair a single part, that person should consider used parts. Many parts are easily recycled, including a used transmission assembly.
The Problem with Carbon Fiber
As of now, carbon fiber is quite difficult to recycle. However, carbon fiber is unlikely to be used on a large-scale basis. Due to the fact that carbon fiber is about 10 times more expensive than steel, very few modern automobiles are engineered using carbon fiber. Some of the high-end vehicles that use carbon fiber include the Audi R8, the BMW M6, and the Corvette ZR1. When purchased new, all three of these vehicles cost at least $80,000.
Increased Use of Advanced High-Strength Steel and Aluminum
Many automakers have already started to use advanced high-strength steel and aluminum. With the use of these lightweight materials, Ford engineers were able to reduce the total weight of the popular F-150 pickup truck by 700 pounds. During testing, the aluminum components has proven to be extremely durable. According to automotive experts, more and more vehicles will begin to feature an all-aluminum body. Over the last 20 years, the number of aluminum engines on the market has increased dramatically.
Benefits of Advanced High-Strength Steel
While advanced high-strength steel is more expensive than regular steel, the total cost is actually quite affordable. Advanced high-strength steel is far stronger than traditional steel, which means that automakers do not need to use as much of it. In fact, automakers such as General Motors are replacing some of their forged aluminum parts in favor of advanced high-strength steel parts.
Bigger Profits for Auto Recyclers
Auto recyclers will certainly benefit from the use of more expensive materials. Not only will these cutting-edge materials lead to bigger profits, but they will also take up less space. Although traditional steel will continue to be a major recyclable material, auto recyclers will eventually experience a change in the types of materials being sent to their scrap yard.