Reducing weight remains top priority for automakers

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Reducing weight remains top priority for automakers

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Taking weight out of vehicles and engine efficiency programmes continue to top the list of strategies for automakers as the industry looks for ways to meet 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

The recent findings were part of the annual WardsAuto survey, sponsored by DuPont Automotive. The survey also showed electrification as an increasingly mentioned technology focus by respondents.

“It’s no surprise to learn that lightweighting and the use of light-weighting structural materials continue to top the list of strategies the industry remains focused on,” said Brian Fish, automotive marketing manager for DuPont Performance Materials.

“Light-weighting can be applied to virtually every component and part and we continue to work with the industry to look for opportunities to reduce weight across systems.

” With the mid-term review of the 2025 CAFE Standards scheduled for next year, 87% of respondents to the survey say they expect standards for fuel economy and emissions to become more stringent or remain the same. At the same time, 90% say low fuel prices in combination with slow sales of fuel efficient, lowemissions vehicles, will continue to impact programmes aimed at meeting CAFE regulations.

The 600-plus respondents work for system, component or parts manufacturers, automakers, engine or engine service companies or in automotive-related industries. Most represent engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing, sales and corporate management.

Among the questions in the survey, respondents were asked to identify technologies that their companies were focusing on to help meet the 2025 standards. A majority of respondents (63%) said they were focused on lightweighting and the use of light-weight structural materials, while nearly half (49%) said they were focused on engine efficiency programmes.

While light-weighting was at the top of the technology focus area, powertrain and chassis development remained the top two vehicle systems that automakers had targeted for lightweighting. Of the respondents, 44% mentioned powertrain and chassis as the primary areas for light-weighting.

The light-duty vehicle CAFE and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions rate standards require, on an average industry fleet wide basis, 101g/km of CO2 emissions in model year 2025, which would be equivalent to 4,3 litres/100km if the level were to be achieved solely through improvements in fuel efficiency.

However, the figure is a non-adjusted theoretical laboratory compliance value that does not include special credits for such things as high-efficiency air-conditioning systems and active grille shutters that improve vehicle aerodynamics. Most experts believe 4,3litres/100km will translate to about 7,1 litres/100km in real-world fuel economy.

Respondents indicated that they were moderately confident that the current portfolio of light-weight materials would help the industry meet the looming standards. Most cited were aluminum and multi-material solutions, while advanced composites, engineered plastics and advanced high-strength steel topped choices among second tier suppliers.

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