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Recyclability Assessment of Vehicular Materials Research Paper



There are various methodologies for assessing the recyclability of vehicular raw materials. Most of these approaches rely on environmental standards that apply to individual brands of vehicles and their respective regions of popularity. Nevertheless, there is a high level of accuracy when gauging the recyclability of vehicular materials using the indices that apply to each material. This paper uses the indices-approach to gauge the recyclability of the finished products and thereby reveal the best practices that apply to the entire industry.

The paper starts with a literature review of materials that reveal important indices that apply to various vehicle-manufacturing components. The total automotive material consumption indicates that steel, iron, plastic composites, and aluminum are the most prevalent vehicle manufacturing materials. The trends that apply to vehicle manufacturing parts indicate a prevalence of lighter but strengthened materials.

The paper outlines the factors that apply to High Strength Steels (HSS’s) among other newer manufacturing materials. The methodology that is used in the paper mainly uses a cost analysis approach about factors that apply to the economy, society, and the environment. The economic factors include life cycle costing, lifecycle analysis, cost-based analysis, and an integrated method. The economic analysis depends on factors such as present-worth analysis, annual worth, rate of return, and the payback period. In the results analysis section, past data on material usage and alternative formulas are used to reveal various material indices. The analysis sections reveal why some materials are more preferred than others are. In addition, the cost factors are inevitably linked to the recyclability of vehicular materials. The paper ends with a conclusion of the study and the prospects of future research on the recyclability of vehicular materials.

Statistics Analysis

The usage levels of regular steel in the manufacture of automobiles have not changed much in the last three decades. Statistics indicate that the average total composition of regular steel in manufactured vehicles accounted for approximately 55.5% in the year 1976 and 40.1% by 2004. Consequently, reliance on steel in vehicle manufacturing has only reduced by 15.4% over the last three decades.

Manufacturers have turned to manipulative industrial processes that transform steel into a material that can be applicable to the current standards (Department of Energy, 2015). The materials that have taken the place of regular steel in vehicle manufacturing include HSS whose reliance has increased by a factor of three since 1976. For instance, the results of this study indicate that in the year 1976 HSS only accounted for 3.2% of the materials used to manufacture a vehicle. However, by the year 2004, this composition has jumped to about 11.6%. The reliance on HSS can be attributed to the increase in demand for luxury brands of cars that use a variety of HSS products.

For instance, there are four sub-categories of HSS and they all serve advanced functions as compared to regular steel (Keeler and Kimchi, 2014). The BIW material grade analysis for different range of car models indicates that most high-end brands such as Astra, BMW, and Alfa Romeo are manufactured using higher components of HSS. Another factor that has contributed to the increase in the use of HSS is that there have been considerable improvements in the technology that is used to process steel. The United States’ Energy Department notes that HSS can reduce the weight factor in vehicles by up to 25% (2015). Overall, both environmental factors and consumer demand factors have contributed to an increase in HSS reliance.

The results of the study also reveal a tendency by manufacturers to use less iron in the manufacture of vehicles. This decrease in iron-dependency coincides with the need to make vehicles lighter with the view of decreasing their fuel consumption. Iron is also proving to be a liability for manufacturers who seek to adhere to the regulatory policies that apply to fuel economy and environmental conservation (Vaidya, 2011). Unlike other vehicle manufacturing materials, iron has been upgraded into newer forms over the last twenty years. Nevertheless, the recyclability of iron has made it a reliable product among vehicle manufacturing products.

Some of the materials whose usage in vehicle-manufacture has increased significantly over the last few decades include aluminum, plastic, and copper elements. Most of these products support the concept of mass production and this makes them suitable for the current market demands. For instance, the use of aluminum in vehicle manufacture has increased from 5% in 1990 to 8.5% in 2004. Also, most of these products have high levels of recyclability by the standards that have been outlined by regulatory authorities.

Nevertheless, there have not been any changes in the reliance on materials such as glass, rubber, and fluids when it comes to vehicle manufacturing. This trend indicates that environmentalists are only concerned with the major car-manufacturing composites. For instance, all these materials make up less than 15% of car manufacturing products.

The results also indicate that EC will decrease significantly as a result of accumulated efficiency of 5%. When gauging this efficiency factors such as noise, environmental waste, carbon emissions, and climatic changes were put into consideration (Department of Energy, 2015). Consequently, each environmental consideration brought about a significant reduction in the total EC. ECs are the major determinants of the success of recyclability in car manufacturing because they are not generated by the manufacturers nor do they affect them directly.

The study’s findings about IC match some aspects of the literature review, which finds that aluminum has the highest recyclability. These results can be attributed to the facts laid out by Nikolaevich and others when they find out that aluminum from vehicles has a high scrap value because it is easily recyclable (2014). When it is compared to steel, aluminum is found to have approximately 35% more recyclability. These statistics are informed by the fact that aluminum is more resistant to rust and it lasts longer. In the future, this fact will serve to revolutionize the auto industry by making it more reliant on aluminum (Ducker Worldwide, 2014).

Optimization is another aspect of the study’s results. The typology optimization technique depends on some mathematical approaches that reconcile the costs involved in vehicle manufacturing and other external needs such as environmental suitability and overall performance (Sudin et al., 2014). The study utilized four alternatives to find out the solutions to optimization. The results indicated that manufacturers have enough room to optimize costs in the current manufacturing environment. On the other hand, the present value analysis was found to produce the best optimization through alternatives 3 and 4, with the latter providing the highest optimal value. The differences in alternatives over 14 years indicated that recyclability is a significant optimizer of vehicle manufacturing/selling costs.


Material indices are an effective tool for formulating the recyclability of vehicular materials because they offer a more accurate outlook than other available options. Although the automotive material-consumption of the entire industry has not changed much over the last few decades, there are underlying factors in regards to the current trends. The demand for motor vehicles around the world is at its peak and the mass-production factor is a major consideration among manufacturers.

The preference of some materials over others depends on their ability to be manipulated easily. Another major determinant of material choices is the ongoing shift from heavy to lightweight materials. Currently, the most common manufacturing materials are the lightweight components that bear the strength of the traditionally strong materials such as iron and steel. AHSS and HSS are examples of materials whose popularity has to do with both their lightweight and strength.

Plastics are also surging in popularity as technology that facilitates their manipulation advances. The trend of strong but lightweight materials in vehicle manufacturing can be attributed to the fact that light vehicles consume less fuel thereby minimizing their carbon emissions. Besides, resize-ability in regards to recycling is easier when the materials are lighter and more compact. Most original equipment manufacturers have also mastered the art of using lightweight materials in various classes of vehicles. The results of the study reveal that lightweight materials have replaced the use of materials such as steel, iron, aluminum, carbon steel, among other alloys.

In the future, vehicle manufacturing will be dominated by the use of materials such as aluminum, HSS, reinforced glass fiber, reinforced carbon fiber, polymer composites, and stainless steel, among other composites. To find out the materials that are most likely to revolutionize the automotive industry, a cost analysis approach must be employed. The three main factors in reference to cost analysis are dependent on economic, societal, and environmental factors. These three factors lay out the options that are available to the automotive industry and they bear the answer to the most efficient approaches in regards to recyclability.

Through the cost analysis approach, stakeholders can see the suitability of certain products, services, or combinations of the two aspects. Nevertheless, the main purpose of the cost analyses that are used in this study is to determine both the environmental and economical benefits of using highly recyclable materials. The correlation between these two factors also informs the critical decisions that are made by all stakeholders in the automotive industry. The results of the study reveal that there are various choices when it comes to recyclability and vehicular materials. Materials that indicate the highest promise when it comes to recycling include AHSS, HSS, plastic composites, and aluminum.

The reconciliation of IC and EC holds the key to the optimization of the industry. Future research on the recyclability of vehicular material should be centered on the policies and practices of the manufacturers. Manufacturers hold the key to the direction that the entire industry takes because they are directly linked to the interests of both the market and regulators. Furthermore, future research can focus on the most popular vehicle models because their recyclability holds the key to internal and external cost optimization.


Ducker Worldwide (2014). The 2015 North American Light Vehicle Aluminum Content Study. Web.

Keeler, S. and Kimchi, M. (2014). . Web.

Nikolaevich, S. A., Valerievich, A. A., Igorevich, G. A., Alexandrovich, S. A., and Alexandrovich, S. M. (2014). Advanced materials of automobile bodies in volume production. European TransportTrasportiEuropei, Issue 56, pp. 1-27. Web.

Sundin, E., Lind S., and Olsson D. (2014). Exploring inter-organizational relationships in automotive component remanufacturing systems. Journal of Remanufacturing, Vol 4, No. 5. Web.

Department of Energy (2015). . Web.

Vaidya, U. (2011). Composites for Automotive, Truck and Mass Transit: Materials, Design, Manufacturing. DEStech Publications, Inc,: USA. Web.

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