At the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled the production version of the previous years Atlas F150 prototype. This time around the F150 stole the show, not only because it’s America’s favorite mode of transport but notably this American stalwart now sported an all aluminum cab and load body.
A number of car companies are beginning to produce vehicles with lightweight alternatives to steel. Aside from the new F-150, BMW boldly moved into carbon fiber composite with its i3 and i8 and no doubt they’ve learned a lot from this experience. Jaguar’s new XE, designed to compete against the German small sedans, supposedly is going to feature an aluminum unibody.
Nevertheless, according to Philippe Houchois, UBS Head of European Automotive Research, in order for manufacturers to meet CO2 limits in Europe, vehicles will need to lose 300 – 400 kgs/car and he believes that the industry is nowhere near that reduction.
Personally, I am an optimist and a strong believer in the potential of an industry to reinvent itself when placed under pressure. I recently had the opportunity to interview Ed Bernardon who is the VP of Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens PLM Software. He is a wealth of knowledge on lightweight materials such as composites.
Our interview can be viewed in the lightweight materials section of Automotive IQ