CAR seeks to integrate research on lightweighting

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TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. (Aug. 1, 3:05 p.m. ET) — The Center for Automotive Research wants to bring the wide range of research into automotive lightweighting into focus to help the industry and government better understand what is involved in various technologies.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CAR first formed the Collaboration for Automotive Lightweight Materials — or CALM — study group in 2010, trying to coordinate the research information being generated by suppliers in composites, steel, aluminum and other materials, CAR President Jay Baron said Aug. 1 during the group’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

“We want to integrate all of that information into one group,” he said.

The researchers also are trying to find common language for the mix of studies on lightweighting issues. Some reports, for instance, cite that building-in lighter weight costs $1-$2 per pound, he said. Another cites a cost savings of 50 cents per pound.

CAR wants to make sure those various papers are looking at the same base numbers, so everyone knows what costs are included and what costs are left out, Baron said.

Weight is gaining more attention in the North American auto industry because of increasing corporate average fuel economy requirements in the U.S. While some improvements are available through better engine performance, electrification and other technologies, automakers will also have to reduce weight to meet higher numbers in coming years.

CAR has submitted a proposal to the Department of Energy to study the issues involved in reducing auto weight by up to 40 percent, and is waiting for a response now, Baron said.