A decade ago, electric vehicles were brushed aside as fanciful notions, unable to compete against the rooted dominance of petrol and diesel vehicles. Yet, by the end of 2023, they have defied expectations, swiftly ascending to become one of the most rapidly expanding segments within the automotive sector. In India, it is evident from its sales growth of 157% from FY22 to FY23. On the other hand, IEA (International Energy Agency) stated that sales of electric cars surpassed 2.3 million units in the first quarter of the 2023 calendar year, marking a surge of approximately 25% compared to the corresponding period last year. Its forecasts indicate a projected 14 million units in sales by the end of this year (2023), signifying a notable 35% increase year-on-year. This growing adoption suggests that there will be around 245 million EVs on the planet by 2030, as per IEA.
Ever since the government of India launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (FAME) scheme in April 2015 and subsequently FAME-II in April 2019, the rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the country roads has also seen a significant uptick. However, when it comes to the automotive industry, the newfound demand for crucial minerals plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of mobility. Among these, Aluminium has emerged as an exceptional material, redefining the essence of vehicle design and performance.
A Versatile Material in the EV Category
'Lightweighting' has changed how we view transportation. By employing engineered Aluminium with techniques aimed at reducing the overall weight of EVs, there has been a paradigm shift in how we approach and perceive modern modes of transportation. This shift isn't solely about shedding vehicle mass; it's about enhancing efficiency, extending range, and redefining the very essence of what an electric vehicle represents in terms of sustainability, performance, and adaptability to growing mobility needs. Lightweighting has not only transformed the vehicles themselves but has also sparked a broader reimagining of urban planning, energy consumption, and the future of transportation infrastructure.
Aluminium, as a critical enabler of Lightweighting, has provided unparalleled versatility. It not only reduces the overall weight and improves the thermal efficiency of the vehicles but also extends battery life, vehicle handling and range. Its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio makes it the material of choice for EV manufacturers. Not only this but as the world pivots towards sustainable practices, the environmental imperative is a crucial driver in the exponential growth of the EV market. Engineered Aluminium's eco-friendly credentials shine, as it is fully recyclable with no compromise on quality, aligning seamlessly with the ethos of electric mobility.
Rising Demand in the EV Sector
The synergy of Aluminium and automobiles traces back decades, with its use in the automotive industry dating back more than 120 years. Over the years, the metal has become synonymous with innovation, sustainability, and efficiency in vehicle manufacturing. India's strategic vision to establish itself as a prominent electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing hub, backed by a substantial USD 1.4 billion electric vehicle incentive scheme, underscores a significant surge in the demand for engineered Aluminium. As the country aims to drive the transition towards sustainable mobility, the projected estimates indicate a substantial need for approximately 2.5 lakh tonnes of Aluminium for every 10 lakh EVs sold, with an average aluminium content of 250 kg per vehicle.
This demand surge not only underscores the immediate relevance of Aluminium in the EV landscape but also emphasizes the metal's critical role in fabricating the trajectory of future mobility solutions.
Contributing to a Low-Carbon Economy
The significance of engineered Aluminium in fostering a low-carbon ecosystem is underscored by its unique combination of lightweight characteristics and energy-efficient properties. The compelling statistic reveals that replacing 2 kg of traditional materials, such as steel or cast iron, with just 1 kg of aluminium results in a weight savings ratio of 2:1, highlighting the transformative impact on overall vehicle efficiency. In addition, engineered Aluminium, once put in a loop, can be re-produced using 5% of the energy required to generate the same amount of virgin Aluminium without compromising its properties.
Need for More Policy Reforms
As India is set to become the fourth-largest EV market by 2040, the downstream aluminium industry's growth will become paramount. However, there is a greater need for appropriate policy reforms to strengthen the engineered aluminium supply chain in EV Manufacturing. The downstream Aluminium sector is a crucial component within the country's Aluminium framework, yet it often operates in the shadows of primary aluminium production. Recognizing the downstream aluminium industry as distinct from primary Aluminium and removing import duties on primary Aluminium while concurrently increasing import tariffs on downstream aluminium products can boost value addition within the domestic market. Moreover, creating a level playing field for downstream Aluminium domestic manufacturers is crucial.
Aluminium's journey in the automotive industry has been nothing short of transformative. The symbiotic relationship between this crucial mineral and electric vehicles propels efficiency and us into a greener, more sustainable automotive future. The road ahead is bright, with engineered aluminium lighting along the way.