Toyota Motor Corp. will soon install an aluminum hood into its Camry sedan, becoming the second next global carmaker making the shift from steel for a high-volume vehicle. The move is set to occur in 2018, source privy with Toyota’s plans told Automotive News.
But Toyota’s first shift is set to happen next year when it releases its 2016 Lexus RX 350 crossover, which will boast of an aluminum hood and liftgate, the source said.
The aluminum sheet for the Camry hood likely will be sourced from a joint venture between Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Kobe Steel. Production of the aluminum sheet metal is expected to commence in 2017, full output expected to be reached at early 2018.
Toyota will be among the joint venture’s first customers. The source said talks are ongoing on the location of the site as well as other details of the venture, with things expected to be finalized this month. According to a source involved in the discussions, the venture will produce 100,000 tons of aluminum sheet capacity annually at a site in the Southeast, likely near Wise Alloys in a Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The source told Automotive News that the joint venture may likely source master coils needed to make the aluminum sheet from Wise Alloys. Toyota spokeswoman Jana Hartline confirmed plans to use more aluminum across its lineup for hoods, closures and parts for lightweighting.
She added that Toyota will also increase usage of mix metals and resin materials to improve lightweighting efforts. The Japanese carmaker already uses aluminum in the hood and trunk of some Japan-made vehicles like the Prius. Most Lexus sedans and the Scion FR-S sports car also have aluminum hoods.