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Drop those kilos!

If you want to make your car more fuel efficient, what’s the next best thing to a more efficient engine?  You make the car lighter. Design engineers working in the field of car body construction work overtime to create lightweight materials for the modern motorcar.  Often new materials have been used from other transportation industries like aeronautical engineering, which is a field that always pushes the boundaries.

Spare a thought for these engineers because while on the one hand the demand is for more fuel efficient cars, from the other side there is the push to make the car as functional and practical as possible, which equates to the requirement for more space and bigger cars ­– usually a recipe for gaining weight.

Safer cars need stronger frames and more systems on-board, and this only leads to more kgs.  More luxury, and more bells and whistles, also adds to a car’s overall weight, so we can see why automotive engineers are working overtime to combat the growing trends.  I’m trying not to sound like a ‘Jenny Craig’ sales rep suggesting we all should slim down and lose the kilos.

Motor racing is a fun and exciting way of trialling new materials and engineering designs.  You’ll find that the cars involved in Formula One, European Touring Car racing and Aussie V8s will use the new materials available to make their cars lighter and faster.

The Automotive Circle International group (http://www.automotive-circle.com) is a European body who gathers expert engineers together to collaborate progressive ideas and discoveries in the field of new automotive materials and design.  These are just some of the bright gurus behind making the cars we drive better and better.

Recently, Mazda engineers have found a new material which is light and strong.  They have applied this new material in the new Mazda CX-5.   In collaboration with Japan Polypropylene Corporation, Mazda has developed a new plastic resin which is lighter and thinner than the previous resin used in the formation of a car’s bumper.

BMW has placed its bets on carbon fibre reinforced plastic as the material for a successful automotive future.  Ferrari insists that aluminium is superior.  Ferrari believes they can whittle down the thickness of their aluminium sheet metal from 1.5 mm to 0.8 mm.  Ferrari’s way of keeping the lightweight aluminium sheets strong is by reinforcing it with ceramic fibres.  Incredibly, this could drop the weight of their cars by 15-to-20 percent.

Reducing a car’s weight is next to gaining mpg directly from the engine.   There’s, obviously, a lot happening behind the scenes that, maybe, we’re not so aware of.

 

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