Losing auto weight could land suppliers and automakers a new industry prize.
Altair Engineering Inc. is teaming up with the Center for Automotive Research to create the new Altair Enlighten Award. Troy, Mich.-based Altair and CAR, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., introduced the award during CAR's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City Aug. 6, calling it the “first award program created specifically to acknowledge innovations” in auto lightweighting.
The award can cover a variety of parts, used in everything from sedans to motorcycles to commercial vehicles and buses. The organizers noted in a news release that they are encouraging achievements demonstrating the “merits of mixed-material lightweighting solutions.”
There are already automotive honors that target specific parts or specific materials, said Tony Norton, Altair senior director of global automotive for Altair. The new award sponsored by the engineering company wants to take a broader look.
The final answer to a lightweight vehicle, Norton said, may take in structural carbon-fiber composites that are joined with aluminum body panels — or a lightweight steel combined through overmolding to a thermoplastic. Many of the issues carmakers and suppliers will face for future high-volume production will be based on how to bring all of those materials onto one platform.
The honor falls in line with the Coalition for Automotive Lightweighting Materials, which CAR created last year.
“By recognizing practical examples of lightweighting solutions, Altair's Enlighten Award will inspire innovation which will help manufacturers achieve aggressive fuel economy targets established by the government,” said Jay Baron, president of CAR and director of CALM.
Nominations for the award will open later this fall through Altair's website, with the winner named in 2013.