Lightweight materials are increasingly used in the production of passenger and commercial vehicles. But the benefits come not only from materials, but also from intelligent applications and processing methods.
Vehicles Become Stable, Larger and Lighter:
In response to stricter CO2 emissions limits, automakers are stepping up their efforts in the light engine sector. Ford and Audi claim that their new models consume about 30% less fuel than their predecessors, but pursue two different modes – construction materials.
Ford, for example, consumes 350,000 tonnes of aluminium foil per year, making it the largest buyer of this material in the automotive industry.
Instead, Audi has opted to use an intelligent blend of materials made of aluminium, reinforced with composite materials and steel of varying degrees of hardness.
Lighter engines, too, are another option for the automobile industry to build not only light passenger cars and small vans, but also for commercial vehicles, since the weight of trailers, semi-trailers and tractors can be reduced by up to 30%. Another advantage in the construction of these cars is the lower centre of weight of the car, which increases the load capacity.
Aluminium: A Timeless Material:
Aluminum Foam is again a “modern” material. In 1978 vehicles manufactured in Europe contained an average of 32 kg of this light metal. This figure increased to 120kg in 2002 and 160kg in 2015. The equation appears to be simple at first glance, since much of the various body parts are made of Alusion and weigh up to 50% less than those made of steel. As a result, luxury cars now have aluminium doors and wings as a key feature. The situation is different with the load-bearing parts of the body positioned in the deformation zone in the event of a collision. In the B-pillar, between the front and rear doors, the high-strength special steel may actually be lighter than the aluminium parts that serve the same purpose.
Carbon fibber or otherwise carbon fibber is even lighter and stronger than aluminium. After launching two small models, the BMW i3 and the BMW i8, with bodies made entirely of CFRP carbon fibber-reinforced polymer – BMW is now using CFRP in mass-produced vehicles for the first time. In the new BMW 7 Series, this fibrous material reduces body weight by 70 kg.
When carbon fibbers are used smartly, they can weigh about one-third less than aluminium components. However, this advantage does not benefit unless the bodywork of the car is designed to benefit from these sandwich-like materials between a heat-treated material and hard steel.
These benefits are of dual interest in the commercial vehicle sector, in the emerging era of electric motoring. The basis for this is an EU directive which stipulates that deliveries of goods to urban centres should be free of CO2 – that is to say by electric vehicles – by 2030. Unfortunately, however, batteries significantly increase the weight of vehicles. Distribution, thereby reducing their payloads. In short, the heavier the drive, the lower its efficiency when it is electrically operated, so car manufacturers must do everything they can to reduce the weight of their vehicle parts.