Vehicle Mass Reduction
The mandate has been handed down by government bodies around the world, even in China, (56 MPG by 2020). Regulations for carbon dioxide emissions are converging globally. Some vehicle manufacturers are in a better position to meet the regulations compared to others. Mass reduction is one of the strategies OEMs will emphasize to meet the new regulations.
The automotive industry is at a particularly interesting juncture. It is not the only industry that contributes to the carbon dioxide build-up in our atmosphere. However, it is scrutinized as the need for mobility in our society is undeniable, growing, morphing and creating numerous opportunities.
The OEMs’ plans to increase vehicle efficiency and to reduce mass in order to meet the GHG requirements have led to a number of innovations and will lead in the future to significant paradigm shifts. Some of these include:
- Downsizing direct injection and boosting, improved combustion…
- Modifications in every facet of vehicle architecture
- Manufacturing technologies
- Joining technologies
- Composite industry proliferation
- Paradigm shifts in vehicle assembly
After improvements in powertrain efficiency, mass reduction receives the most emphasis by the OEMs and the body-in-white is in the epicenter of these developments followed by vertical and horizontal panels.
The ITB Group’s report covering vehicle mass reduction places a significant emphasis on understanding the choices available and the future direction of materials as these cannot succeed as stand-alone items. We remain material agnostic in our viewpoints. Materials require processes that are seamless to the manufacturing plants, design and simulation tolls that have a proven track record, and suppliers that can deliver to the OEMs. To that end, The ITB Group developed an analytical tool, included in this report, for evaluating the full value proposition of mass reduction.
The ITB Group’s tool considers subjective risks associated with making changes to reduce mass. An example of ITB’s analysis results is shown in the graph below. This model, developed by The ITB Group, is a flexible analytical tool that will enable engineers to sift through the alternatives and weigh out factors (hard or soft) that are important to a specific case. This tool will help engineers clarify the value proposition which is becoming more important in material selection, especially when carbon fiber composites are among the alternative materials.
The most significant part of this report focuses on the OEMs’ material use for body-in-white, liftgates, front-ends, roofs, and seating. The OEM strategies, influenced by consumer choices, government regulations, availability of resources and supplier capabilities, remain the key to understanding future technical and business developments. Hence, we have made this a priority in this report and provide the subscriber with an understanding of the OEMs’ future direction, and it is not a single material designation, but it is not relying solely on carbon fiber composites either.