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New Coalition Supports Downweighting of Vehicles to Improve Performance, Fuel Economy and Safety

  • Tuesday, 7th February 2012
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

The Centre for Automotive Research (CAR) haslaunchedthe Coalition of Automotive Lightweighting Materials (CALM) to support efforts by auto manufacturers to aggressively down-weight vehicles to improve performance, fuel economy and safety.

CAR say that CALM is the first known organisation of its kind to coalesce the strengths and knowledge of the metals industry, such as aluminium, and the plastics industry with technology providers in design, fabrication and joining to accelerate the implementation of mixed-material solutions that will reduce vehicle mass.

Thealuminiumand plastics/composites industries are developing advanced materials to help automakers design lighter and safer cars. According to CAR, leading technology companies are also developing weight-saving solutions that include these materials along with steel for new applications. “By working together we can accelerate the application of these progressive materials and solutions,” said Dr. Jay Baron, CAR’s President, and the Director of CALM.

CALM’s purpose is to support the cost-effective integration of mixed materials to achieve significant reductions in weight through the collaborative efforts of technology providers with the auto manufacturers. CAR explains that CALM is supported by The AluminiumAssociation’s AluminiumTransportation Group ( and the American Chemistry Council (, which combinedrepresent a membership of more than 200 companies. A representative from each association will serve on CALM’s steering committee with Baron.

CAR explain that vehicle fuel economy remains one of the nation’s critical policy concerns. The recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish vehicle corporate average fuel economy standards at 54.5 mpg in 2025 is in response to these concerns. Reducing vehicle mass is uniformly recognised as one of the key enabling technologies necessary to help achieve these fuel economy targets, as well as to reduce related tailpipe emissions. Historically, automakers have steadily increased the amount of aluminium, plastics/composites and high strength steel in cars, but the new fuel economy targets will require further acceleration in the rate of implementation.

As automakers rapidly transition to low weight, high strength materials, CAR say that multi-materials solutions will be vital to boosting fuel economy and cutting emissions. “Through individual company efforts and through the new CALM partnership, the aluminium industry is committed to working with our customers and other suppliers to further accelerate and ease the adoption of advanced materials options,” said Randall Scheps, Chairman of the AluminiumAssociation’s Aluminium Transportation Group (ATG) and Marketing Director, Alcoa.

Integrating advanced low-weight materials can present challenges with the design, joining, and structural validation. By working collaboratively with automakers, CALM aims to overcome these challenges through precompetitive efforts that will accelerate the adoption of down-weighting technologies and the overall benefits they offer automakers and ultimately consumers.

“Lightweight materials are one of the key technologies needed to produce more fuel efficient cars for the 21st century. Partnerships like CALM will help automotive companies utilise plastics, composites and other lightweight materials to meet these goals.” said Steve Russell, Vice President of Plastics at the American Chemistry Council.

CAR say that one of the first tasks for CALM will be to meet with the engineering groups at the automakers to understand their mass reduction strategies and challenges so the supplier industries can develop and apply their technology solutions with each auto company,” said Baron. In addition to the material associations, individual materials and technology organisations have joined CAR in support of CALM including 3M, Altair, BASF, EWI, Material Sciences Corporation, Michelin, Plastic Omnium Auto Exterior, PPG Industries, Shiloh Industries and Trexel. Additional organisations are expected to add their support in the weeks ahead.

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