Altair and the Centre for Automotive Research (CAR) have announced the winners of the 5th annual Altair Enlighten Award, which strives to promote and celebrate innovation in automotive lightweighting.
The winner of the Full Vehicle category was the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is 249 lbs (113 kg) lighter than its predecessor. Toyota’s carbon fibre closure panels for the 2017 Prius Prime and Lexus LC500, and Faurecia’s Adaptive Valve for exhaust systems employed on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado took the top honours for the Module category. AP&T claimed the Enabling Technology category for its innovative aluminium forming technology used on several European vehicles. The awards were presented at the 2017 CAR Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Michigan, US.
“For the 5th year, our expanding field of global entries demonstrates an incredibly impressive range of innovations helping to meet the worldwide weight reduction challenges of modern automotive manufacturing,” said Dr. Jay Baron, President and CEO of CAR, and Director of CAR’s Coalition for Automotive Lightweighting Materials. “FCA, Toyota, Faurecia and AP&T and all our 2017 finalists are contributing to reductions in weight, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions.”
The FCA team built the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica from the ground up to achieve a lighter vehicle with improved safety, better NVH performance and superior interior space and comfort. The body system, which shed 168 lbs (76 kg), utilised high strength steels and large amounts of dual phase and hot stamped material grades for improved impact protection at reduced weight. Aluminium and cast magnesium were used for the rear sliding door, liftgate and the instrument panel beam, while the front-end module is a steel-plastic overmould to improve part integration and stiffness.
For the Module category, which focuses on vehicle systems, subsystems and components, the international judging panel could not split the winners, opting to award the top prize to both Toyota and Faurecia. Toyota’s winning entry concerned the side and luggage doors of the 2017 Lexus LC and the liftgate of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime which feature carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) inner panels, combined with aluminium, glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) and polypropylene outers for components that are 47% lighter than conventional metal structures.
“Toyota is excited to offer closure systems that are optimised to the unique mission of each vehicle,” said JP Flaharty, Executive Programme Manager at Toyota Motor North America R&D. “With CFRP applied to the Prius Prime liftgate and the Lexus LC side and luggage doors, our customers can recognise the light touch and high tech appearance of these sophisticated, lightweight door systems.”
Faurecia’s winning entry was the Adaptive Valve, an offset shaft spring return butterfly valve located in the intermediate pipe of the exhaust system. Its specific purpose is to address NVH concerns caused by cylinder deactivation by presenting the gas flow with a variable restriction. The valve requires less package space than traditional systems and its innovative design reduced the muffler weight of the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado by 26.5 lbs (12 kg).
Finally, the Enabling Technology category, a new award introduced in 2017 to recognise technological advances that enable manufacturers to save weight, was claimed by AP&T. The company’s aluminium forming technology is the world’s first multipurpose production line for high strength aluminium sheet metal, enabling flexibility in the forming of high strength car body components with complex shapes, leading to weight savings between 30-50%.
Image provided by Altair
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