Alcoa adds 1,000 jobs as demand grows for lightweight auto materials

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that aluminum maker Alcoa is among the U.S. companies now adding jobs:

“We have been hiring over the past 12 months, about 1,000 people across our business, the majority of those in the U.S. In the last quarter, we have been hiring as well,” a spokeswoman said. This includes hiring at facilities in Davenport, Iowa and Lafayette, Indiana.

At an industry meeting in New York on June 13th, Randall Scheps, the company’s director of automotive marketing, explained why Alcoa needs more hands on deck:

“Car makers are basically reacting to increases in fuel economy requirements and regulations. Every major market around the world is tightening fuel standards.”

“We have every car maker calling us, wanting to increase their aluminum content, wanting to start new R&D projects about how they can convert bodies from steel to aluminum, wanting to convert hoods and doors from steel to aluminum.”

The company is projecting demand for aluminum from auto companies to double over the next fourteen years, Schep told the American Metal Markets Aluminum Summit. 2011 consumption from the auto sector was 11.5 million tons; it’s expected to reach 24.8 million tons by 2025 ‚Äì the year proposed U.S. fuel economy standards will require 54.5 mpg across the fleet of U.S. cars and light trucks.

Since lighter vehicles are one way to enhance fuel economy, the amount of aluminum in a typical vehicle is expected to increase to 550 pounds, up from 343 pounds now.

To meet the increased demand, Alcoa has invested more than $300 million to retool its plant in Davenport.

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Tiffany Ingram is the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Midwest Advocacy Director.


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