The Electric Future of LightweightingBy Alfonso Núñez | Tue, 03/08/2022 - 11:56
Lightweighting is a priority for engineers and auto manufacturers to improve the fuel economy of what was once a traditionally ICE-led industry. But as focus shifts towards sustainable manufacturing methods and a shift towards EVs to lower CO2 emissions, EV lightweighting arises as the latest trend in auto part manufacturing worldwide.
The lightweighting of all types of vehicles is beneficial for the environment, manufacturers and customers because it reduces fuel consumption or battery power demand, lowers emissions and reduces the carbon footprint. It also improves vehicle performance, safety and freight vehicle efficiency, explained Allen Haynes, Automotive Powertrain Applications Engineer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “A 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight can result in a 6 percent to 8 percent fuel economy improvement for a conventional vehicle,” said Haynes.
Because of the global immediate focus on reducing carbon emissions across industries, particularly as transportation accounts for 30 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide, lightweighting now more than ever presents an opportunity for auto manufacturers to achieve their COP26 commitment to limit carbon emissions in vehicles in the next decade. Universal trends in leightweighting include an increased reliance on aluminum and high-strength steels (AHSS) to replace traditional steels used in auto parts. However, ICE and EV lightweighting efforts are very different.
“EVs have a fundamentally different architecture than ICE vehicles, with large battery packs as the dominant feature rather than a large engine bay. The need to secure a large, heavy battery pack at the bottom of the vehicle and the desire to use one platform for multiple vehicles will drive the automotive industry back into a body-on-frame arrangement,” says Anthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst, Lux Research Inc.
As such, the shift towards making electric traction motors and batteries lighter presents a further opportunity for auto manufacturers to optimize their EVs and increase efficiency for the future of transportation. Several efforts for this front are arising worldwide, such as the Technological Institute of Aragon’s European Union Initiative (ITAINNOVA) in which engineers are focusing on developing EV lightweighting technological advances.
But EV lightweighting is not the only avenue for carbon reduction. Improving ICE efficiency through lightweighting, in which technological efforts are more advanced, is also an important part of the industry’s decarbonization process, said Haynes. By allowing for lower density, less expensive batteries and an additional 16-17 percent battery capacity, EV lightweighting could be the next step in increasing access to EVs regionally, as they are currently considered luxury vehicles in the Mexican market.
Mexico Automotive Summit 2022 will further discuss the exciting progress being made in EV lightweighting and ICE efficiency during its “Light Weighting for EV, ICE Efficiency” panel on March 24. Secure your tickets here and join panelists Martin Toscano, President, Evonik Industries de Mexico, and Saulo Guzmán, General Manager, Wieland Group, in discussing the exciting future for auto manufacturing efficiency and sustainability.