Skip to main content

'Lightweighting' of car materials shaking up body shops

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The automotive industry has decided it needs to lighten up. But the fallout is making body shops uptight.

In the drive to improve fuel economy, car makers are moving away from conventional steel toward lighter materials. But that's changing the game for repair shops, where a little welding here and there will no longer get the job done. An executive with the Twin Cities chain LaMettry's Collision tells USA Today fixing the new materials requires expensive equipment that is dividing body shops into the haves and have nots.

A piece from Climatewire republished by Scientific American last year says automakers need to reach a federal standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. While there are lots of ways to improve fuel efficiency, a spokesman for the aluminum company Alcoa says "all of them begin with lightweighting."

While aluminum is making deeper inroads into the automotive industry, the Wall Street Journal reports steel is fighting back by offering its own lighter, high-strength variations.

Whatever our cars are made of, the need to get them repaired seems unlikely to go away -- partly because we're driving them longer. As the journal Design News reported last week, even a decade-old vehicle is younger than the national average, which has now reached 11.

Next Up

Omar Samuels

Rep. Ilhan Omar defeats Don Samuels in contentious primary

Unofficial results for one of Minnesota's most-watched primary races are in.

Ambulance Hennepin Healthcare

Boy, 14, critical after accidental shooting at Minneapolis apartment

Police say the shooting happened during a gathering at an apartment.

Screen Shot 2022-08-09 at 3.25.49 PM

Charges: Man caused Burnsville building fire because girlfriend was late

The alleged arson fire displaced around 50 residents.

Famous dave granite city

Famous Dave's, Granite City owner sold for $200 million

The owner of Famous Dave's, BBQ Holdings, is based in Minnetonka.

Alanna McLean

Appeal to find missing northern Minnesota woman

Alanna McLean was last seen this past weekend.

image

Minnesota reaches 55 confirmed cases of monkeypox

Nearly 9,000 cases have been confirmed nationwide.

derek chauvin

$1.45M payout for correctional officers prevented from guarding Derek Chauvin

The officers were reportedly ordered to avoid Derek Chauvin while he was in jail.

DSD_6142

Palm Springs residents: Divert the Mississippi to solve our drought problems

Should the southwest have some of the Mississippi River?

Image from iOS (10)

Minneapolis tries to spruce up street barriers with motivational messages

Police said the barriers will be in place through the beginning of the fall.

BearTracks3

MnDOT debuts driverless shuttle in White Bear Lake

This is one of several self-driving pilot programs MnDOT is working on.

Related