Lightweighting in the automotive manufacturing industry is one of the most important innovations happening at the moment. While manufacturers rush to get their cars lighter and lighter, we wanted to highlight some of the associated pros and cons.
Lightweighting Automobiles Results in Better Fuel Economy
The lighter a car is, the less power it takes to move it. Thus, lighter cars have a better fuel economy. In fact, for every 10% in weight reduction, fuel economy can be increased from 6 to 8%. This is especially important to hybrid and electric vehicles, as batteries are particularly heavy.
Lightweighting the Body of Cars Allows for Other Areas to Be Lighter
When a car requires less power to get it moving, manufacturers can afford to use a less powerful engine. Instead of using an 8-cylinder engine, SUVs are now more commonly manufactured with 6-cylinder engines, and the reduction in engine size can be felt in the total weight of the car.
Lightweighting Materials Can Be Safer
In order to lightweight cars, manufacturers are looking to various materials, like aluminum, carbon fiber and fiber glass. These materials improve handling of the car, making it more maneuverable during inclement weather, as well as to avoid collisions. Additionally, parts made from these materials have better energy absorption and can be stronger than an equal mass part made from steel.
Lightweighting Automobiles Introduces More Noise and Vibration
An inherent side-effect of lightweighting products is increased noise, vibration and harshness. The lighter the material, the less there is to weigh it down to prevent vibration. While there are many methods of controlling, damping, and isolating this noise and vibration, most of them simply add back the weight that was removed by using a lighter material. New technologies have been developed, however, that control vibration with minimal added weight.