NEW YORK, June 10 (Reuters) - Most new pickup trucks produced in North America will use aluminum instead of steel for lighter bodies that boost fuel efficiency, driving consumption of the metal by the region's automotive sector up 40 percent by 2025, according to a study released by Ducker Worldwide.
The estimate calls for North American automotive aluminum demand to hit 4.5 million tonnes in 2025, up from forecasts of 3.2 million tonnes in 2015.
Ford, General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler will be the biggest users of aluminum sheet in the next decade, the study showed.
The study, which was released on Tuesday and commissioned by the Aluminum Association, showed seven out of 10 trucks will be aluminum bodied, and the number of vehicles with complete aluminum body structures will reach 18 percent of North American production, from less than 1 percent today.
Vehicle segments revealed as emerging aluminum content leaders are pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and both mid-sized and full-size sedans.
"Consumers won't visibly notice a different metal under the paint, but they'll see greater savings at the gas pump and experience better performance and handling at the wheel," said Tom Boney, vice president and general manager of automotive for Novelis in North America.
He is also chairman of the Aluminum Association's aluminum transportation group.
The study, which comes five months after Ford Motor Co's led the way in the United States with the launch of its aluminum-intensive F-150 truck, will foster growing confidence about the auto sector as construction and packaging markets remain sluggish.
Primary aluminum producers also continue to struggle with weak metal prices as the market remains in oversupply.
Automakers' switch to aluminum from steel is seen as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for producers of the light metal.Aluminum is lighter weight than steel, but more expensive.
(Reporting by Josephine Mason)