'Lightweighting' of car materials shaking up body shops


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

Taylor Rogers

Twins Rumors: Taylor Rogers could draw interest despite injury

The left-hander was placed on the injured list on Tuesday.


Severe storm watch: Apple-sized hail, 75 mph winds possible

A watch has been issued by the National Weather Service.

Screen Shot 2021-07-27 at 7.28.06 PM

Slain Red Lake officer identified as husband, father-of-four

Police say he was shot while responding to a report of a suicidal male who possibly had children the house.

Go Fund Me - Adam Richard Johnson

Remains in Mississippi mark 4th discovery of man's dismembered body parts

Officials on Tuesday confirmed the remains found July 4 are those of Adam Johnson.

Facebook - GoGo dog stolen vehicle -  St. Paul Police Department

Missing dog GoGo found dead in owner's stolen vehicle 3 days later

The vehicle was reported stolen with GoGo inside on July 18

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

The 14 MN counties with 'substantial or high' COVID-19 transmission

The CDC says everyone in these areas should wear a mask in indoor public places.

Pexels - woman grocery shopping mask covi

CDC: Masks recommended in places with 'substantial or high' transmission

This new guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Screen Shot 2021-07-27 at 1.10.29 PM

WATCH: Vikings Live with Matthew Coller: Welcome to training camp

Vikings Live with Matthew Coller is a new Vikings show that streams Tuesdays.

YouTube - Minnesota DNR - watering tree

Tips for watering trees during severe drought, sprinkler restrictions

How can you keep your valued trees healthy? Just follow these simple steps.

police tape, crime scene

Minnesota saw record number of murders in 2020, BCA says

The BCA released its annual Uniform Crime Report on Tuesday.

Flickr - Red Lake Nation sign - Ken Lund

Red Lake police officer fatally shot on Tuesday

The officer was reportedly shot near Redby.