Innovative lightweight construction of the future Mercedes C 180
Mercedes-Benz has substantially reduced the weight of the future C 180. Thanks to intelligent and innovative lightweight construction, the aluminium hybrid body is around 70 kg lighter than conventional production using steel. The gross vehicle weight has been cut by around 100 kilograms compared with the predecessor, which translates into around 20 percent lower fuel consumption without any loss in power. Mercedes-Benz has pulled off this technological leap primarily through an entirely new design and the extensive usage of aluminium, hot-formed steel parts and ultra-high-strength steels – an unusual combination in volume-production vehicles.
The proportion of these materials has therefore increased noticeably compared with the predecessor. Simply by using these materials, the weight of the body-shell structure has been reduced by some 40 kilograms compared with the outgoing saloon.
Virtually the entire outer skin, consisting of front wings, bonnet, boot lid, doors and the roof paneling, has been made from sheet aluminium, thus helping reduce weight further. The body-shell engineers delivered further benefits – both in terms of weight and as regards other important body characteristics – by means of conceptual lightweight construction. As part of this process, they have redesigned each detail and not simply replaced steel with aluminium. The designers exploited the greater design leeway offered by die-cast aluminium, for instance, compared with steel.
The body thus consists of nine large cast components. The same designers also managed to integrate and merge various components in a single die-cast component, which would otherwise have to be made up of several steel components with conventional steel designs. Other design details include larger cross-sections as well as calculated stabilizing beading in the floor and bulkhead. Body and body-shell exceed the values for overall vehicle rigidity, which are traditionally good for Mercedes-Benz. As a result, the goals regarding driving dynamics and noise level have even been reached.
Redesigning the body-shell is a huge investment that needs to be taken care of. When do you think it was decided to change the body-shell? And in how much time did they perform the design, prototype and validation of the design? I don’t even know how many prototypes are needed to reach the final design.