2013 was marked by the start of aluminum wheels mass production with the process COBAWHEELS™. A hybrid light-weighting process combining extrusion, flow-forming, COBAPRESS ™ and friction stir welding. It allows substantial reduction of weight on large diameter wheels. As a result, the 19 inch rim weight of the Audi A5 has been reduced from 13.5 kg to 10.4 kg, with the same design, and allows to save 13 kg per vehicle. “The larger the diameter of the wheel, the more light-weighting potential weight saving” notes Véronique Bouvier, head of RID (Research, Innovation & Development center). With this innovation, Saint Jean Industries intends to become a strong player on the aluminum wheel market within 2017.
In addition to this innovative solution, the research department of the group pioneered to offer product in order to save weight on vehicles. Lionel Duperray, Technical Director, gives an overview of innovations dedicated to chassis: “Today we are able to offer solutions that would save about 30 kg per vehicle for the chassis.” Lionel states that all these patented solutions have been designed for mass production, and are being utilized on a large scale production program. These methods and solutions are depicted below:
The company continues to invest in research aiming at: reducing CO ² emissions through light-weighting, developing new competitive technologies, developing “clean” vehicles in partnership with the automakers. The main activities of Saint Jean Industries are focused on the automotive market. “We found significant decreases in volumes for some of our current customers, but we won new prestigious contracts with customers such as Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, Chrysler and Tesla, because of the recognition of our technical skills, quality and competitiveness. Our leading technologies COBAPRESS™, COBAWHEELS™ represent true technological opportunities for our clients. Moreover, emerging markets are strategic targets because they are driving the growth in automotive production, and even if we already deliver parts in the BRIC (Brazil, India, Russia, China), we are aware that local manufacturing is important to meet the needs of global manufacturer’s platforms. In this sense our international development intensifies” announced Hervé Vericel, Corporate Sales Director. Even as the automotive sector remains the main market of the group, the aim is also to reduce dependence on this sector and continue to expand its range of products for aircraft and industrial markets.