Composites lose out in lightweight body-in-white; more potential in non-structural components


A project sponsored by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and conducted by Lotus Engineering (Norfolk, UK) has released its latest results on research into mass reduction in a crossover utility vehicle (CUV). Phase 2 of the study analyzed the simulated crashworthiness of a low mass body-in-white (BIW) using computer-based techniques. The study's findings also indicate that a 30% lighter vehicle could be mass-produced in a cost-effective manner by 2020 timeframe using materials and processes deemed technically feasible by 2017.

Based on the Toyota Venza, the body-in-white (BIW) developed in the latest phase of the project was 37% lighter (311 lb) than that currently employed. While the Phase 1 2020 MY BIW developed in 2010, which was 38% lighter and comprised of 30.0% magnesium, 37.0% aluminum, 6.6% steel and 21.0% composites—the remaining 5.4% consisting of paint (1.8%) and NVH material (3.6%)—the Phase 2 BIW contains 18% less magnesium, 38% more aluminum, 1.4% more steel and 16% less composites. These changes were driven primarily by structural requirements and impact performance (to meet US Federal requirements), according to Lotus. Aluminum replaced magnesium as the key energy-absorbing material and it also replaced some composites in sections of the floor structure....
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