Study Finds Alcoa Forged Aluminum Wheels Dramatically Cut Carbon Footprint of Commercial Vehicles, Supporting Sustainable Transportation

September 25, 2012

Savings of Switching One Truck from Steel Wheels to Alcoa Forged
Aluminum Wheels Equals Average Annual Carbon Footprint of American

CLEVELAND–Alcoa (NYSE: AA) today released the findings of a peer-reviewed life
cycle assessment (LCA) which concludes that Alcoa aluminum wheels
substantially cut the carbon footprint of commercial vehicles. In North
America, the study found that substituting 18 conventional steel truck
wheels with Alcoa aluminum wheels cut carbon emissions by 16.3 metric
tons over the lifetime of the wheels. In Europe, replacing 12 steel
wheels with aluminum cut 13.3 metric tons of carbon emissions. In
addition, the study found that the use of Alcoa forged aluminum wheels
over steel wheels can be viewed as an active and highly efficient
investment into the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the
commercial vehicle sector.

“As commercial vehicles face stricter regulations around reducing carbon
emissions, this life cycle assessment confirms that Alcoa forged
aluminum wheels support sustainable transportation and can help trucks
and trailers to be greener,” said Tim Myers, President, Alcoa Wheel and
Transportation Products. “Compared to steel, the lighter weight and
infinite recyclability of Alcoa forged aluminum wheels support greener
vehicles that cut down on fuel use and carbon emissions.”

“Life cycle assessment is the universally accepted method to
comprehensively assess the environmental impact of a product,” said Dr.
Christoph Koffler, Technical Director of PE International, Inc. & Five
Winds Strategic Consulting, which conducted the study. “Our findings are
based on the full life cycle of Alcoa forged aluminum wheels—from the
raw materials, through the production, distribution, use, disposal, and
recycling of the product.”

This analysis is the most comprehensive and transparent comparative LCA
ever conducted on aluminum and steel truck wheels. It analyzed the
entire “cradle-to-grave” production process of commercial vehicle
wheels—from bauxite mining to wheel manufacturing, through a truck
wheel’s use phase and end-of-life, including recycling and land filling.
The study incorporated the latest available information on energy and
material consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental
releases. Alcoa provided primary data for aluminum wheel production from
five facilities: two in the United States (Cleveland and Barberton, OH),
one in Mexico, Hungary, and Japan. PE International provided upstream
data for fuels, raw materials, and steel wheel manufacturing processes,
including primary metals and chemicals. The study conformed to ISO
methodology and was peer reviewed by respected professionals in the LCA
community, including experts from the world-renowned Technische
Universitat Berlin and the University of Michigan.

Major findings of the study include:

  • The 16.3 metric ton savings of switching one 18 wheel truck from steel
    wheels to Alcoa forged aluminum wheels in North America equals the
    average annual carbon footprint of a four person American household.
  • Alcoa wheels maintain their value throughout their lifetime and have
    an end-of-life scrap value that is nearly equal to that of primary
  • For volume restricted vehicles in North America that are unable to add
    additional payload, switching from steel to Alcoa forged aluminum
    truck wheels produces an average lifetime savings of more than 520
    gallons of fuel. In Europe, these savings amount to more than 1,942
  • For mass restricted vehicles in North America, where lighter weight
    aluminum wheels allow for additional payload, switching from steel to
    Alcoa forged aluminum truck wheels results in the ability to carry 414
    lbs. of additional payload per haul with the same fuel consumption. In
    Europe, the amount totals 215 kg of additional payload per haul. This
    benefit reduces the fuel consumed per pound of cargo, thus increasing
    the efficiency of transport.
  • While aluminum wheels require more energy to manufacture than steel
    wheels, the light weight and recyclability of aluminum allow for a net
    energy savings throughout the life cycle of an aluminum wheel. A truck
    with aluminum wheels can see a CO2 “break even mileage” as
    early as 205,000 miles, or about two years. Once this mileage is
    reached, all the travel on aluminum wheels produces CO2 and
    energy savings.

Alcoa and PE International will present the findings of the LCA at the 12th
Annual American Center for Life Cycle Assessment Conference in
Tacoma, Washington on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. For more information
on the conference, please visit

The LCA entitled, “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Aluminum and
Steel Truck Wheels,” is publicly available at

About Alcoa Wheel & Transportation Products

Alcoa Wheel & Transportation Products, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio,
serves the commercial vehicle, automotive, and defense markets with
products used in a range of applications including forged aluminum
wheels, premium products such as Dura-Bright®, Dura-Flange®, LvL ONE®
and M-Series™ medium truck wheels, as well as a variety of other
aluminum components for these markets. AWTP is composed of three
divisions: Commercial Vehicle Wheels, Forged Specialty Wheels and
Transportation Products. It employs 1,500 people at 13 locations
worldwide. More information can be found at

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated
aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of
alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry,
Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace,
automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial
transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the
past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled
products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels,
fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building
systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as
titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral
part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and
engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow
Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years and approximately 75
percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in
active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 31
countries across the world. More information can be found at

About PE International

PE INTERNATIONAL, Inc. & Five Winds Strategic Consulting is one of the
world’s most experienced sustainability software, content and strategic
consulting firms. With 20 years of experience and 20 offices around the
globe, PE INTERNATIONAL allows clients to understand sustainability,
improve their performance and succeed in the marketplace. Through market
leading software solutions, Five Winds Strategic Consulting Services and
implementation methodologies PE INTERNATIONAL has worked with some of
the world’s most respected firms to develop the strategies, management
systems, tools and processes needed to achieve leadership in
sustainability. For more information: