'Automotive lightweighting is nothing but rightweighting'

Light weighting metal is a critical component that will allow OEMs in the automotive sector to continue and meet emission targets

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 21 Oct 2022 Views icon3792 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

As environmental legislation becomes more stringent around the world, light weighting metal is a critical component that will allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive sector to continue and meet emission targets. The desire for lighter cars directly affects weight and fuel consumption, improving mileage and lowering CO2 emissions. This was the view of industry experts during a two-day virtual event organised by Autocar Professional on October 18-19. 

The development becomes more significant considering the fact that the modern automobiles and now, electric vehicles (EVs), research and development are provided with advanced materials that play an important role in increasing fuel economy while ensuring safety and performance. In the automobile industry, it takes less energy to accelerate a lighter vehicle than a heavier one; lightweight materials increase vehicle efficiency and thus provide more potential, they added.

Seetharaman Krithikumar, vice director, transportation, performance materials, BASF (India) said that the automotive industry per say is not localised but remained highly globalised. What happens in one country, say in China or Japan is likely to have at least some impact on India too. The best example being, how India's automotive industry transitioned into BSVI skipping the BSV in a record time, due to global push towards cleaner carbon footprints. “So as a raw material supplier, it is mainly driven by demand.” said Krithikumar. “Globalisation is driving the industry and lightweighting is getting integrated into the country’s norms; stringent emission norms are also influencing vehicle weight reduction. Every part of a vehicle matters when it comes to lightweighting,” he added before emphasising that it all depends upon the demand. 

So, the fundamentals remain that everything must start with design, and then all of the elements -- including the type of raw materials used, efficiency, safety, emission standards, costings, and other elements can be efficiently integrated to produce an overall effect, Krithikumar continued. 

Offering his perspective from the side of vehicle manufacturers, Dr Tapan Sahoo, ED (Engineering) at Maruti Suzuki said that lightweighting has traditionally been done on the body white and powertrain. However, over the last decade, the emphasis has shifted to every aspect of the vehicle. Dr. Sahoo, who prefers to refer to 'light weighting' as 'right weighting,' explained that if one wants to reduce an 'X' amount of vehicle weight, it will also be necessary to adequately redesign the vehicle suspension and other associated systems. Furthermore, testing and validation should be performed in terms of safety, performance, and efficiency based on the new parameters. As a result, weight gain in a vehicle affects more than one area. “Whether headlamps, radiator fans or other parts, all benefit from lightweighting. For instance, the lighter a rear tailgate, the better for the user. But it has to be robust enough, rigid and structurally sound in terms of safety. So, the material used is vital.” Sahoo further added.

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