The economical and environmental effects of mass reduction through Al and Mg primary alloys substitutions for cast iron and steel in automotive components are discussed using M.F. Ashby’s penalty functions method. The viability of Mg alloy substitutions for existing Al alloy cast components is also considered. The cost analysis shows that direct, equal-volume, Al alloy substitutions for cast iron and steel are the most feasible in terms of the CAFE liability, followed by substitutions involving flat panels of prescribed stiffness. When the creation of CO2 associated to the production of Al and Mg is considered, the potential gasoline savings over the lifespan of the car compensate for the intrinsic environmental burden of Al in all applications, while electrolytic Mg substitutions for cast iron and steel are feasible for equal volume and panels only. Magnesium produced by the Pidgeon thermal process appears to be too primary energy intensive to be competitive in structural applications. Magnesium substitutions for existing Al alloy beams and panels are generally unviable. The current higher recycling efficiency of Al casting alloys confers Al a significant advantage over Mg alloys.