Automakers Eye Weight Reductions to Meet Fuel Economy Goals
October 25, 2012 9:45 AM
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Hydroforming and new welding methods help reduce vehicle weight
New CAFE standards
have automakers reaching for any technology they can find to help improve fuel economy. Many manufacturers are going to electric vehicles or hybrids to increase their overall fleet mileage averages. The problem with focusing only on hybrids and electric vehicles, however, is that most consumers aren't in the market for that type of vehicle.
On traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, automakers are increasingly turning to weight savings as a way to help improve fuel economy. The lighter a vehicle can be made, the less weight the engine has to push or pull around and the less fuel it uses because engines could be made smaller without sacrificing performance.
Some automakers are even turning to removing some features of cars such as CD players and the spare tire to reduce weight according to the
. Both General Motors and Ford are turning to new processes in vehicle assembly to help remove weight from the body of mainstream vehicles.
2013 Ford Fusion
Many automakers are using aluminum rather than steel to help reduce the weight of their vehicles. Hoods, trunks, and lift gates as well as door skins are commonly made from aluminum today. Ford is also
experimenting with carbon fiber
on the Focus.
Switching to lighter materials isn't the only way automakers are going about reducing the weight of the vehicles they produce. They're also reducing weight by changing the manufacturing processes used. Ford, for instance, is using hydroforming on the steel structural pillars of its
One of the big benefits of hydroforming is that it allows the forming of complicated and larger parts that don't need to be welded together. Traditional stamping produces multiple parts that have to be welded at joints. Those joints are points of weakness and add weight. Using hydroforming, rather than other forms of stamping, sheds 18 pounds from each car by eliminating the additional welds.
GM is also doing its part testing a thermal-forming process for lightweight magnesium that weighs 75% less than steel. GM also plans to use a patented welding technology to allow the company to integrate more aluminum into automotive bodies by saving the company from using rivets to join aluminum body panels. The use of the welding process rather than rivets will cut nearly 2 pounds from parts such as hoods, lift gates, and doors.
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RE: Bout time
10/25/2012 11:58:14 AM
Bicycles are substantially more profitable that cars.
Even if you sell only a few hundred bicycles as a botique builder, your profit margins are enormous. And the crap that comes out of China (Taiwan if you're lucky) on the racks at Walmart for $70 cost less than $10 to manufacture and are generally poorly engineered or using old-school technology (sub $200 hybrid bicycles are finally standardizing disc brake implementation, something most mid-range bicycles have had standard for a decade.)
Granted, as you said, cars use more material than bicycles, but auto manufactures material costs are lower per ton because they buy
more than bicycle manufactures. I know of a bicycle builder in San Diego that specializes (not the brand) in titanium frames. The materials for him are almost $1000 for a few tubes. He tells me that Wilson gets titanium for a tenth of what he pays to manufacture golf clubs!
RE: Bout time
10/25/2012 8:09:16 PM
Bicycles are substantially more profitable that cars
BS. Profit margin might be a higher percentage thats it. Profit comes from more than just margin. I dont see any bicycle billionaires owning NFL teams. Tom Benson does it and he
owns the dealerships. The Automakers made a couple of bucks as well. You let me know when a more profitable bicycle manufacturer posts earnings and profits in the billions.
RE: Bout time
10/27/2012 1:11:31 AM
I never said bicycle builders or manufactures would be billionaires. I'm just saying they make a larger percentage. The problem is a bicycle cost a fraction to make compared to a car, so obviously the profit is still a fraction of that of a car.
The same goes for bicycle "dealers" which make a hundred bucks per $400-$500 bicycle sold. Auto dealers make many thousands per vehicle sold. Again, fractions. It's take at least 25x-30x more bicycle sales to profit as much a an owner of a chain of auto dealers.
But while you believe I am wrong on profits (and dealer success) I will chime in that Bill Kozy, of Kozy Cycles in Chicago, owns a huge chain of family-owned bicycle shops started by his father in 1944 and is a billionaire. I'm sure there are other mega-successful bicycle shop owners, but that's one I know of personally. He has a bicycle collection equivilent to that of Jay Leno's garage. Some of the rarest, most valuable bicycles in the world, many tour de france-winning bicycles. He has many shown behind cases in his chain of shops.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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