Aluminum: Expect it in the 2017 Jeep Wrangler
In the constant war waged against poor fuel efficiency, engineers and designers have been experimenting with various structural changes and new materials in order to maximize fuel economy without sacrificing power. For this reason, many car makers are trying out a relatively simple strategy to reduce vehicle weight and still a safe driving environment – aluminum construction.
Jeep has also begun working with aluminum in their designs for the 2017 Jeep Wrangler. Much like the quality used Jeep Wranglers for sale at your nearby Jeep dealer, this vehicle will be built with passenger safety in mind, but will likely include a good deal of aluminum in its internal construction.
What makes aluminum so special? Its incredible strength to weight ratio makes it pound-for-pound more durable than steel, and so the use of aluminum in a vehicle is a smart way to shave several hundred pounds off a vehicle’s total weight. And, it crumples for passenger protection about as well as traditional alloys, promising driver safety despite its light weight.
Originally, Jeep hinted that the 2017 Wrangler was going to be fully aluminum, but that has been scaled back considerably due to cost considerations. Not only is aluminum more expensive than steel in its raw form, and more difficult to manipulate on an assembly line, but it would have required significant re-tooling of Jeep’s production plant in Toledo, or would have required the Wrangler to be produced elsewhere. In the interest of keeping the Wrangler in Toledo, Jeep decided to scale back somewhat on their designs for an all-aluminum body.
Aluminum is more costly to obtain, manufacture, and work with, meaning body shops may have a harder time working on aluminum body vehicles than typical steel. The repairs process may require specialized machinery or tools that an average body shop would have to obtain. And since aluminum has a lower melting point than steel, working with hot aluminum requires somewhat greater finesse than steel.
Because of its chemical structure, aluminum is also more prone to oxidation over time than steel. It is possible that owners may experience their bumper or side panels “bubbling” from oxidation underneath the paint. Aluminum is less corrosive, however, and so elemental damage like salt and chemical erosion are less likely to affect aluminum.
Despite this, aluminum is a smart choice for use in automobile exterior design. It’s strong, lightweight, and reliable – and, it’s the most abundant metal on the planet, meaning its use is less wasteful and more efficient than typical steel.
Perhaps most importantly, aluminum is highly recyclable – theoretically, completely recyclable. This means that an aluminum-based vehicle that has run its lifespan could be more efficiently scrapped and reclaimed for later use. And since much of the infrastructure needed to recycle and reuse aluminum already exists, significantly increasing aluminum use would be relatively simple.
Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about Jeep’s use of aluminum alloys in their newest line of 2017 Jeep Wranglers. If you want to check out a used Jeep Wranglers for sale at the Jeep dealer near you in preparation for this amazing 2017 series, go for it. With decades of excellent automating experience behind them, Jeep promises you’ll be satisfied with any Wrangler you get in – especially if it’s made from aluminum.