TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.
The survey of 880 automotive insiders, from DuPont Co. and
WardsAuto, was released during the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
Twenty-four percent of respondents said the engine and transmission are their primary targets for lightweighting, followed by chassis at 12 percent and body-in-white at 11 percent. Body panels tied with electrical and accessories at nine percent.
Jeff Sternberg, director of automotive technology at DuPont, speculates that successful weight reduction efforts in other structures of the vehicle are prompting a new focus under the hood.
“That's where the opportunity is, right? Powertrain, engine, transmission — there's just a huge amount of weight there. And, you know, go where the weight is when you're looking for new opportunities. I think that's one factor,” he said in a phone interview.
Sternberg also said he sees a growing understanding of and appreciation for how plastics and composites will function in a powertrain setting.
Materials engineers at General Motors Corp. discussed their attention to plastics' performance in temperature- and chemical-intensive environments in a follow-up phone interview.
GM has already worked to convert many powertrain components to plastics or composites, including broad use in the engine of the Chevrolet Cruze, and uses of composite materials for acoustical treatments inside engine compartments.