Lightweighting is a concept that the automobile manufacturers love. This is a concept that is meant to reduce the weight of a vehicle. A reduced vehicle weight enhances fuel economy, improves vehicle handling capabilities, and the vehicle starts to perform much better. Lightweighting helps reduce auto emissions and therefore makes the vehicle more eco-friendly.
To enable lightweighting, vehicle designers actively look at plastics as a substitute. On an average, plastic constitutes about half the volume of new vehicles. But, in terms of the weight, this is only 10 percent. Composite plastics like fibre glass are moulded and used as a replacement to metal parts. Is is said that a 10% drop in weight of a vehicle improves the fuel economy by 6%-7%.
The automotive industry is excited about ‘lightweighting’ their cars. This was a domain hitherto restricted to the F-1 cars but now every car needs this to be done. Governments may put their foot on the pedal and want automobile manufacturers to reduce the weight of the car and improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon footprint.
Apart from plastics, aluminum is the material explored for this purpose. Experiments show that aluminium provides about 40% improvement over steel. Developments in the material science field and aided by technologies such as 3D printing are making lightweighting possible.
This is a very interesting space for automobile experts and manufactures. We will deal with this in further detail in a future article.