Due to the significant stress on greenhouse gas reductions and improving fuel efficiency in the transportation sectors, all automakers, suppliers, assemblers and component manufactures are investing heavily in lightweight materials R&D and commercialization. They are working towards the goal of increasing the use of lightweight materials and gaining more market penetration by manufacturing components and vehicle structures made from the materials. The single greatest barrier to use of lightweight materials is high cost; therefore priority is given to activities aimed at reducing costs through development of new materials, technologies and manufacturing processes.
Frost & Sullivan finds that innovation in terms of lightweight materials technology must be met to remain competitive in the global market
for the automotive industry. Such materials include composites, aluminum, magnesium alloys, metal foams and other innovative polymers.
With the automotive industry facing difficult challenges in balancing issues such as vehicle weight, crash performance and emissions with those of recovery and recycling, the strong trend to use lightweight materials for automotive applications will continue to increase significantly.
If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end- users, and other industry participants an overview of the latest analysis of the Lightweight Materials for Automotive Applications, then send an e-mail to Trisha Bradley - Corporate Communications at trisha.bradley[.]frost.com with the following information: full name, company name, title, telephone number, e-mail address, city, state, and country. The brochure will be e-mailed to you upon receipt of this information.
Automakers realize that higher cost can be offset if the manufacturing process is made radically simple. Though the cost of lightweight materials is high, the ability of these materials to integrate several functions in a single component can reduce the overall cost of the component when compared to traditional materials. New cost-effective joining technologies are being targeted to make the overall manufacturing process of the lightweight material components highly cost competitive.
"It has been estimated that for every 10% of weight eliminated from a vehicle's total weight, fuel economy improves by 7%. This also means that for every kilogram of weight reduced in a vehicle, there is about 20 kg of carbon dioxide reduction,” says Anil Naidu, Research Analyst for Frost & Sullivan’s Technical Insights group.
The automotive industry is highly conservative because new technologies take significant time to attain commercialization status. The industry is used to working with the conventional technologies, which do not require extensive specialized knowledge on functional integration, design scalability and related process opportunities. There are also many misconceptions regarding the use of lightweight materials that appear to muzzle the increase in usage of materials like magnesium within the automotive industry.
"In spite of the weight reduction tendencies of lightweight materials, one can see that their applications in automotives have been restricted. Lightweight material technology has not yet attained widespread use in the industry mainly because of the engineering issues associated with developing the technology,” says S. Sumithra, Research Analyst for Frost & Sullivan’s Technical Insights group.
There are a number of engineering issues associated with scaling the manufacturing process for mass production. For example, there is a problem pertaining to the long processing time required by the composites. In the case of Aluminium, the extrusion process also has lots of manufacturing issues that restricts its extensive use for structural components. Magnesium’s application as structural applications in automotive is still a challenge because of the lack of stiffness in magnesium. To improve the stiffness and thereby increase its applications would require significant investment in the research and development activities of magnesium.
In concise, the techno-economic issues related to lightweight materials need to be investigated and resources must be allocated in terms of cost and research and development activities to promote the extensive use of lightweight materials in the automotive industry. The material producers and suppliers around the globe are keen to exploit the opportunities of the automotive market as the car manufacturers are always interested in new materials that offer a wide range of technologies. Significant breakthroughs for new materials in automotive applications can be confidently predicted.
Lightweight Materials for Automotive Applications (Technical Insights) is part of the Automotive and Transportation (D920) subscription service. It provides information on organizations, companies, universities, research institutions and government labs involved in R&D along with their contact details. A summary of key patents provides an insight into notable activities, technology trends and the major participants involved in the development and application of these technologies. Analyst interviews and executive summaries are available to the press.
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