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Lighter Than Aluminum for Powertrain App



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Although aluminum seems to be the material of choice when it comes to lightweighting powertrains, the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 550i and 750i use a transmission cross beam made of fiber-glass reinforced polyamide. Plastic. Engineering plastic. But plastic. In a structural application. The component, produced for BMW by ContiTech Vibration Control, is said to be 50% lighter in the application than an aluminum component.


The injection-molded crossbeam links the engine-transmission with the chassis. In addition to providing strength—realize that the 550i has a 360-hp 4.8-liter V8 (the car, equipped with a six-speed manual, can go 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds), so the issue of capability is certainly non-trivial--other concerns that were addressed during the development included acoustics and crashworthiness.





While there are an increasing number of tubes, connectors, pans, and other plastic components used in powertrain applications, this serious structure points to even more opportunities for alternative materials.


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