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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: Hilarious
By Jeffk464 on 10/25/2012 11:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
You guys just don't get it, you maintain the same strength but reduce weight. If you reduced weight buy using less steal in a steal care then you reduce strength. Having all cars lighter makes the roads safer the bigger the vehicle the more energy to get rid of a crash. You ever see what happens when to trains collide?

RE: Hilarious
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2012 8:19:37 AM , Rating: 3
Man you sure do steal a lot.

RE: Hilarious
By Jeffk464 on 10/26/2012 8:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I saw the same analogy after I posted, but once you post its to late.

RE: Hilarious
By FITCamaro on 10/26/2012 8:21:00 AM , Rating: 1
Well when you figure out a way to teleport all our goods around the country so we don't need semis and work trucks, you let us know.

Until then I'll take a car that has some chance of me surviving an accident with one.

RE: Hilarious
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2012 5:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
There is no way to make a cost effective vehicle that weighs dramatically less, while retaining the same crash characteristics as current autos. Maybe you haven't noticed, but there's still a world economy crisis going on. Cars made of Titanium and Carbon Fiber aren't really a reality right now, or ever.

But your argument is typical of the Leftist viewpoint on this. "Just force ALL cars to be tiny and light, and everyone will be safer". Uhhh, wrong thinking.

RE: Hilarious
By Jeffk464 on 10/26/2012 8:57:28 PM , Rating: 2
Aluminum is neither exotic or expensive.

RE: Hilarious
By FITCamaro on 10/29/2012 7:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
It's at least 4x more expensive than steel.

Aluminum - $2080/ton
US made Steel - $350-480/ton

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