No silver bullet for lightweighting

How to get weight out of vehicles that already have been made significantly lighter is a conundrum facing suppliers and automakers alike.

Unfortunately, there is no silver-bullet solution that will make the process easier going forward, say panellists at a Society of Automotive Analysts Lightweighting Summit here.

“It’s unlikely there are any breakthrough materials awaiting discovery,” says Abey Abraham, director-Ducker Worldwide at the conference.

In the face of increasingly stringent global fuel economy and emissions regulations, including in the US where a 54.5-mpg (4.3 L/100 km) fleet fuel-economy bogey is set for 2025, suppliers and automakers already have been able to remove tens – in some cases, hundreds of pounds of mass when creating new vehicles. One or more alternatives to traditional grades of steel – aluminium, magnesium, carbon fibre, and most commonly ultra-high-strength steel – make up a growing percentage of the bodies of most new cars and light trucks in the US. This article first appeared in WardsAuto.

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