Safety, lightweighting drive auto electrical innovation and part consolidation

By Kerri Jansen
Staff Reporter

Published: May 22, 2014 2:41 pm ET
Updated: May 27, 2014 3:20 pm ET

Image By: Toyota Motor Corp. Ankil Shah, manager of materials engineering and development for Toyota's North American engineering group, noted that the Camry added more than 800 pounds of weight during 20 years as it added more electronics.

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Sustainability, Materials, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations DuPont Co., Toyota Motor Corp.

TROY, MICH. — Electrical innovation and consolidation of parts will be necessary to reconcile lightweighting efforts with increased consumer demand for safety features and other electronics, industry experts say.

Though today the auto industry is immersed in lightweighting efforts, historically, the trend has been the opposite, said Ankil Shah, manager of materials engineering and development at the technical center of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., during a keynote address at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ AutoEpcon on May 6.

As an example, he presented the Toyota Corolla, which added 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of mass between 1983 and 2003, an increase he attributed to customer demand for more features and a larger vehicle.

And as cars pack on the pounds in the form of backup cameras, automatic braking systems, entertainment options and more, another issue will present itself.

“We’re running out of power,” said Eric Fedewa, director of global powertrain and components forecasting at IHS Automotive, at the conference.

“Everybody likes their heated seats, they like all of the infotainment systems they have, and power consumption on the vehicle is rising dramatically,” Fedewa said. “Electrical innovation of the vehicle is going to become of paramount importance in order to drive all the content that we have on the vehicles.”

Fedewa said he foresees a shift to dual voltage architectures in vehicles — two batteries working in tandem — to handle the increased electrical load. But finding a way to power more electronics isn’t the only challenge.

“We’re really at the point where the legislation is going to continue to force you to reduce [carbon dioxide] or increase the miles per gallon. At some point you reach a technological limitation where you really need to either have a technology breakthrough, or you simply have to take the weight out of the vehicle,” he said. “So material substitution will be, once we get beyond all the consumer and infotainment content on the vehicle, next generation we need to really look at weight reduction and materials substitution.”

While large parts may be the obvious target for lightweighting, small parts will have to be redesigned, too, he said. And multi-component parts may be simplified.

Image By: DuPont Co. Patrick Lindner, president of the performance polymers division of DuPont Co., noted the company is getting increased interest in materials that simplify and reduce weight for electrical components.

“Some people talk about these cars being just as functional from an electronics standpoint as their home, … But that means electronics in the car, new safety features and new capability there, but absolutely parts consolidation — simplifying that design — is a big part of what we’re being asked to do,” Patrick Lindner, president of the performance polymers division at DuPont Co., told Plastics News May 8.

DuPont manufactures materials used in printed circuit boards that eliminate the need for additional wires, cutting bulk and weight. The company is also working to develop lighter-weight solenoids — components that function as a switch for electrical current. 

“[We’ve] started to redesign some of those solenoids such that you can surround the bobbin and other parts with polymers that we make. And so even down at that level we’re trying to figure out how to take weight out, and those are pretty small parts,” Lindner said. “The other issue around those is when you take the weight out, you can actually make them smaller, which allows you to get more real estate in the car … to fit things in.”

Moving forward, it’s essential that lightweighting efforts can be coordinated with new safety features and other add-ons, he said.

“That type of innovation, I think, goes hand-in-hand with the work that’s happening around safety as cars become lighter and more efficient, because they have to work together,” Lindner said. “You first of all want to avoid the collision, and then second of all, if you do have to have one, you want to be safe and protected in it. … and I think then one without the other, is going to lead to sub-optimized experience and safety experience for the consumer.”


Comments

Safety, lightweighting drive auto electrical innovation and part consolidation

By Kerri Jansen
Staff Reporter

Published: May 22, 2014 2:41 pm ET
Updated: May 27, 2014 3:20 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

World Plastics Council takes on sustainbility for its initial priorities

November 25, 2014 9:51 am ET

The recently formed World Plastics Council (WPC) has set marine debris and post-consumer recycling and energy recover as its initial top priorities.    More

Image

Canada's Papp Plastics is eyeing big opportunities with JV in Mexico

November 24, 2014 4:11 pm ET

Canadian injection molder and turnkey solution provider Papp Plastics & Distributing Ltd. will open an $11 million to $12 million joint venture...    More

Image

AMA Plastics adds presses, changes management structure

November 24, 2014 3:57 pm ET

AMA Plastics Inc. has strengthened its management structure, received recognition for entrepreneurship, achieved quality improvements and added three ...    More

Image

Indiana injection molder PRD expands

November 24, 2014 1:56 pm ET

Automotive supplier PRD Inc. is expanding its manufacturing facility in Springville, Ind.    More

Image

Indian plastics group targets waste

November 24, 2014 12:46 pm ET

An Indian plastics environmental group and the country's largest brand for packaged water, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd., have launched a trial prog...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events