Magnesium has a long tradition of use as a lightweight material in the field of commercial and specialty automotive construction. Racing cars used magnesium parts in the 1920’s but magnesium castings were not extensively used in commercial vehicles until 1936 when the Volkswagen Beetle was introduced. The car contained around 20kg of magnesium in the powertrain and during its peak production in 1971, consumption of magnesium reached 42,000 tonnes per annum.
Consumption then declined but over the past 20 years, there has been significant growth of magnesium in the high pressure diecasting sector, averaging almost 15% per annum worldwide; and it’s the use of magnesium as a strategic lightweight material in the automotive industry that is the driving force behind this growth. Following the necessary technological advances in alloy performance being made in the mid 1980’s and the continuous drive to minimize weight and fuel consumption, today, there is an exciting synergy between what the automotive industry is demanding and what the magnesium industry has to offer.