The new BMW 7 Series sedan, which made its debut in November 2008 with a host of "world firsts," cruises out of showrooms with lightweight door components made from a unique aluminum product called Novelis Fusion™. This is the first automotive application of this innovative, multi-layered product, which Novelis has dubbed "The new aluminum™."
Novelis is the major supplier of aluminum sheet for the 7 Series, which features extensive use of the material in conventional form for the roof, doors, hood, side panels and some structural reinforcements. The use of aluminum helps reduce vehicle weight, providing better handling, performance and fuel economy.
Novelis Fusion is a proprietary Novelis technology for producing aluminum sheet with two or three layers of different aluminum alloys. Using this new material, BMW can manufacture one-piece door "inners," with integral window frames, to a design that is not achievable with conventional aluminum sheet. This was made possible thanks to the unique combinations of core properties and surface characteristics that Novelis Fusion can provide. The alloy combination used by BMW delivers both a high degree of formability and superior corrosion resistance - a combination that was not previously available.
Novelis Fusion creates real value for BMW by offering the performance benefits of lightweight aluminum, but with the manufacturing and assembly advantages of a one-piece design. Conventional material would require a less efficient, multi-part design.
"Novelis Fusion literally opens the door to new applications for aluminum," said Roland Harings, vice president, Global Novelis Fusion business. "We are delighted that BMW has included it as part of a package of innovative technologies for the 7 Series that will set new automotive benchmarks. We have worked with BMW from a very early stage on this project, which will be a trend-setter for future models."
BMW is the first automotive company to use Novelis Fusion in volume production. Several other automakers are testing the material or have already committed to its use. There is significant potential for Novelis Fusion to help automotive manufacturers enhance their lightweight designs, be it in inner panels, outer panels, structural components or other parts. In the United States, Novelis Fusion has become a market leader for brazing sheet used in automotive radiators. The material is also generating great interest in a variety of other market applications.