Sam Burman - Ashok Leyland’s Chief Technology Officer
Ashok Leyland’s Chief Technology Officer on how the CV manufacturer has been progressively working towards reducing vehicle weight.
What are the challenges in adopting new lightweighting technologies?
For an industry driven by the need for ever-increasing fuel-efficiency, any step taken in reducing the unladen weight of a vehicle directly reflects in greater profitability for the customer as more load can be carried per trip. Ashok Leyland has been progressively working towards reducing the weight of their vehicles through various component light-weighting processes and technologies. The challenge, however, is the need to freshly design and optimize these components using Die-simulation analysis and High Pressure Die Casting (HPDC) methods to ensure rigidity and weight reduction.
Which area offers the maximum scope to reduce component and overall vehicle weight?
The load body and chassis frame of a vehicle are two key areas where the overall vehicle weight can be significantly reduced. For instance, the weight of a chassis in a vehicle can be reduced by anywhere between 150 kgs to 1 tonne depending on its dimensions and application or up to 2.5 tonnes on the load body of a tipper truck.
How much has Ashok Leyland been able to cut weight and in which models?
At present, the Company is still in the initial stages of deploying some of these low-weight components in their range of trucks and buses and hence it will be premature to commit any figures. For instance, the Company is currently using H-series engine and ZF Synchromesh gear box from its erstwhile AL engine and AL cast iron gearbox, wherein a significant portion of the component weight has been reduced.
Can you share some examples on how Ashok Leyland works in sync with vendors to introduce new lightweighting ideas?
All developmental work on vehicles is done with the active engagement of supplier partners. The company, with its suppliers, is seamlessly working on the reduction of component weights using hi-end technologies, special die-casting and advanced heat treatment processes.
Are high-performance engineering plastics the only cost-effective answer to steel?
Aluminium-based metal alloys can also be used as a cost-effective alternate to steel.
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