3 innovation projects to reduce vehicle weight
The French organization ADEME introduces three major projects, winners of the Call for Expressions of Interest (AMI) “Weight reduction, Aerodynamics, Vehicle Architecture”, which it launched and managed on behalf of the State under the Investment Program for the Future (PIA). These projects focus on reducing the weight of road vehicles and thereby contribute to reducing their energy consumption and CO2 emissions. They reflect the mobilization of French automobile industry as a whole.
Lighter vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and emissions
Since the 60s, the average weight of a passenger vehicle has increased by more than 60%. This trend is now beginning to reverse with the growing need for cleaner (standards, tax, polluter/payer principle) and less expensive to use (increased fuel prices) vehicles. In particular by setting a regulatory target of 95 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer, the European Union has added a financial incentive in 2020. The introduction of highly innovative solutions is required. In this respect, the weight reduction of vehicles is a real lever. Projects selected under this AMI aims to contribute to a 20% decrease in average vehicle weight (- 250 kg), equivalent to a reduction in emissions of 20 g CO2/km. The vehicles are made today of 75% of metallic materials. Wight reduction can be achieved through the introduction of lighter materials and in particular composite.
Competitive projects in terms of cost, production rate and recyclability of materials
The common objective of all three projects is to produce sustained, large-scale and cost effective, composite components that can be integrated into a car’s structure. A total of 13 French regions are involved in the development of these projects.
A lighter front seat frame design, by the use of a multi-material structure consisting of metal and thermoplastic composites.
The interior of a vehicle is about 20% of its total weight; all seats, 5 to 7%. A reduction of 30% of their mass would decrease CO2 emissions of around 2 g/km. This is the objective of the DEMOS project, which will carry on to the industrial stage the conception and manufacturing of multi-material seat structures (thermoplastic composites and metals) considerably lighter, which are now made of steel. DEMOS will enable the industrial production of several thousand parts per day while limiting the over cost of production.
To offer automakers a comprehensive range of thermoplastic composite materials compatible with the current structure of vehicles.
The COMPOFAST project brings together 13 industrial partners and 6 technical centers or public research laboratories. This partnership aims to build a dedicated sector that plans to market a varied range of solutions (materials and processes) to various automakers, at controlled costs and high performance, enabling global optimization of the car’s structure:
- a new generation of thermoplastic composite materials and processes developed within the project (structural parts and semi-structural, 40-50% lighter than the original steel parts);
- the tooling necessary to achieve thermoplastic composite parts;
- a set of information needed for the design and integration of thermoplastic composite parts in vehicle manufacturing.
ASSEMBLAGE FASTLITE project
To develop solutions for multi-material assembly within the constraints of mass automotive production.
The project ASSEMBLAGE FASTLITE will interact with various projects constituting the Fast Lite initiative. It should help building a technological mastery of multi-materials assembly processes.
To do this, it will offer automakers two tools:
- a catalog of multi-material assembly solutions on standard configurations;
- a generic methodology for characterization of materials to be assembled and their assembly technologies for assessing materials performance.
Did you know it?
A composite material consists of at least two components which do not mix but the combination of which makes it an especially efficient material. Thus, the replacement of metal by composites can reduce the final piece weight.
A thermoplastic material is a material that softens when heated above a certain temperature. Then, it can be melted without degradation. This quality makes the thermoplastic material potentially recyclable.
→ Composite materials are currently reserved for high-value applications (aerospace, luxury cars, etc.). The challenge today is to integrate them into the mass automotive production while respecting the constraints of cost, manufacturing throughput and “recyclability”.