Although small volumes production (from niche segments) are a new trend in the automotive industry, mass volume products continue to see sustained demand for vehicle lightweighting reveals Dr N Saravanan, Chief Technology Officer, Ashok Leyland.
Saravanan, while speaking during Day-1 of Autocar Professional’s webinar on ‘New-Gen Materials for Lightweighting’ said, "OEMs need to collaborate more for lightweighting initiatives. There's a gap in skill level in simulation & material understanding with respect to lightweighting. We need a holistic approach to reduce emission across the manufacturing cycle."
In this context, another speaker at the same panel, Barun Bharadwaj, Director – Automotive OEMs, Henkel Adhesive Technologies-India, Middle East & Africa pointed out the importance of creating a strong business case for all stakeholders across the value chain to enable a circular economy in the context of material lightweighting. He added "as more and more new materials come into play, there are many challenges for OEMs keen on lightweighting. Improvement on cost performance is crucial and the decarbonisation of the automotive value chain is important.”
Saravanan explained that there are higher lightweighting penetration levels in BEVs, which can offer greater opportunities for industry to experiment with. In contrast, conventional fuel vehicles such as those running on diesels witness a lower adoption considering that total cost of operations (TCO) remains an important parameter for CV fleet operators.
Seconding Saravanan, Nikhil Bhagchandani, Deputy Director, Aluminium Marketing, Vedanta, also part of the same panel, contended that adoption of lightweighting tech is moving at a rapid pace in India, particularly driven by emission regulations. In cars, average lightweighting currently stands at 4-5 percent vs 14-15 percent in developed markets, which offers huge scope for India's automotive industry.
However, Bhagchandani believes significant cost reduction of materials can happen only when key alloys are produced locally, "lightweighting has evolved across the years. Aluminium and composite materials have helped in increasing the efficiency and also from the safety perspective. More than 90% of aluminium goes into the circular economy." Vedanta, one of the largest aluminium manufacturers in India and a key supplier to the automotive industry, believes a lot of investments are required to bring material traceability into the ecosystem.
Bringing designing perspective to the discussion, Pandu Ranga Rao, SVP, Tech Operations & Strategic Initiatives, Altair India emphasised that simulation offers plenty of flexibility at the concept stage and with OEMs increasingly not looking at carryover design, the digital twins are enabling realistic product options. "Simulation is not just plug-and- play. There is plenty of calibration. Material suppliers & the ancillary industry are doing great work. A lot of work is being done collaboratively across India Auto Inc" Rao signed off.
But that's not all. In case you have missed Day 1, you can still register yourself for Day 2 of the Virtual Conference on emerging trends in automotive lightweighting.