When it comes to motion, there’s nothing that can beat lightness. It is preferable for reducing inertia and also energy consumption, while it increases nimbleness and safety. As Colin Chapman, the English designer and engineer who founded Lotus Cars liked to say:
“Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.”
The ‘Altair Enlighten Award’ winners for 2021 have been announced, and all five are excellent examples of the above, encapsulating the importance of achieving lightness by using state-of-the-art technologies available today.
Component Winner: ‘Magna International’ for the 2019 RAM 1500 Active Air Deflector and Grille Shutter. This is a lightweight component that reduces drag by 9% and consists of 78% recyclable plastics.
Vehicle Winner: ‘Ford Motor Company’ for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Ford’s bravery to make an all-electric Mustang won the judges.
Winner: ‘Faurecia’ for NAFILean Stif. This is a polypropylene compound for vehicle interiors made out of 100% recyclable material, with 20% of it being bio-sources. It reduces the weight of the interior parts by 21% compared to conventional solutions.
Winner: ‘Stellantis’, ‘BASF’, and ‘L&L Products’ for the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Composite Tunnel Reinforcement. This part is 40% lighter than the part it replaces, removing 2.08 kg from each vehicle it is installed in to carry critical load paths at the center.
Lightweighting Enabling Technology
Winner: ‘ArcelorMittal’ for GI Fortiform® 980, the 3rd Generation AHSS. This is a next-gen steel material that features high ductility and strength while being 20% lighter than steel of similar physical and mechanical properties.
Future of Leightweighting
Winner: ‘American Axle & Manufacturing’ for its Electric Drive Unit (eDU). This novel electric motor has 25% less mass than other common solutions of comparable power output. It integrates the motor, gearbox, and the inverter into a single unit, so it’s very compact too.