Putting Material in Its Place
Shedding weight to make cars more efficient is complicated by the economic advantages of using as many of the same components as possible in multiple models, says Altair Engineering’s Richard Yen.
Shedding weight to make cars more efficient is complicated by the economic advantages of using as many of the same components as possible in multiple models.
Richard Yen, Altair Engineering’s senior vice president of global automotive business, says carmakers use the 34-year-old company’s high-performance computer modeling software to more accurately make structural decisions about the amount and placement of materials. The process, he adds, is occurring earlier and earlier in the design and engineering process.
This year’s winners of Altair Engineering’s Enlighten awards are the Jeep Wrangler SUV and Ferrari Portofino sports car, which are 179 lbs and 203 lbs lighter, respectively, that prior models.
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The common wisdom seems to be that midsize cars have pretty much had it in the U.S. new car market.
As OEMs and suppliers seek lightweight solutions to meet higher fuel economy standards through multi-material structures, conventional welding techniques are beginning to give way to new solid-state joining methods better suited for creating strong bonds between dissimilar metals.
The little car that could still can. And this time as a car that not only gets great fuel economy, but which has ride and handling that makes it more than an econo-box (and its styling is anything but boxy).