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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 Detroit News. 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 2013 Fusion.

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.

Source: Detroit News

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RE: Bout time
By nglessner on 10/25/2012 1:54:16 PM , Rating: 1
lol, this is too easy.

Who says poor people have the inherent god-given right to own a car? If someone chooses to buy a car over food and they're hungry... am I supposed to feel bad about that?

Carbon is plentiful, and as far as I understand it it's cheap to produce once the manufacturing process has been setup. It just has high cost of setup.

RE: Bout time
By FITCamaro on 10/25/2012 2:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
And where do I say they have a right to a car. If you know anything about me, I believe absolutely the opposite.

But I also don't believe in purposefully pricing things out of people's reach so that others can feel better about themselves.

RE: Bout time
By FITCamaro on 10/25/2012 2:23:47 PM , Rating: 3
And following your logic, why not just step in and say no gas powered cars. Electric only. Screw all of you that can't afford an electric car. You don't have a right to one.

You going to support that regulation?

RE: Bout time
By Spuke on 10/25/2012 2:52:57 PM , Rating: 3
Who says poor people have the inherent god-given right to own a car?
The point is "you people" claim to champion the poor while continually removing their ability to participate in NEW car ownership. Hypocritical much? Also, by removing their ability to purchase new cars, they have to remain in their less fuel efficient, more polluting, and less safe one's. I thought of point of all this was to get the masses into newer car tech. If only a small percentage change, there is virtually no change.

RE: Bout time
By Stiggalicious on 10/25/2012 2:58:00 PM , Rating: 3
If you're talking about carbon fiber, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to manufacture.

Carbon fiber is made from rayon or polyacrylonitrile strands which are then veeeeery slowly heated to very high temperatures. The slower and hotter, the better the quality of carbon fiber (and the higher cost, which is why Chinese carbon fiber is much cheaper and much weaker as well).

The process takes a whole lot of energy to produce as well as the raw hydrocarbon material. Yes, it's plentiful, but it just takes a whole lot of time, material, and energy.

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