• Jan 3, 2008
As enthusiasts, it's easy to get caught up in horsepower and torque figures, but weight remains the ultimate buzz kill for performance. The last twenty years has brought huge advances in technological and safety features, but the downside is that we've been tacking on the pounds in the process. Nissan has recognized this and is setting a course to rectify matters by attempting to lower the average weight of its vehicles by 15-percent in the next seven years when compared to its 2005 lineup.

Nissan's goal is to make use of more lightweight materials, rethink its vehicle design and get suppliers in on the action by setting efficiency targets for the parts they produce.

Considering the 350Z tips the scales at just over 3,200 pounds, which means Nissan is looking to shave about 500 pounds from the coupe's curb weight. That's going to make for an impressive power-to-weight ratio and even more compelling driving dynamics. Hopefully, the cost of lightweight materials will decrease as their popularity grows and it won't be too long before carbon fiber begins to find its way into more mainstream automobiles.

[Source: DowJones]


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  • 25 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Come into the light, all are welcome...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yet another concequence of CAFE..lower weight. Why oh why are we burdened by this CAFE (sarcasm)
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mike, we are burdened by CAFE because our Politicians are idiots and suffer from a lack of guts. Let me see if I have this right. Cars will average 35 MPG utilizing a fuel supplement that is amazingly inefficient, incorporate all of the legislated safety standards and equipment, and we will not drill for oil anywhere in or around the United States to help offset the sky rocketing crude oil prices we are getting stuck with by foreign countries run by thug dictators who hate our guts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a coincidence, i intend to gain 15% by 2015.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hmm, a diet to start the new year. Less weight = more driving fun. Less weight = better gas mileage. Less weight = higher performance.

      I hope this starts a trend.
        • 7 Years Ago
        i dont think it will... Mazda has already cut down on weights in many of its newest generation cars. doesnt seem like any other car company cares.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mazda has also sold many more cars in their newer generations than before. If you build it, they WILL come.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Don't get excited, they'll probably do it by just killing the Armada. That'll cut their average quite a bit.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So does this mean infiniti will go to fat camp as well? That would sure help the G37.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why can't Nissan and other automakers find a way of shaving off weight without the use of exotic and expensive materials (i.e. aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, etc.) which kinda-sorta reduce weight but end up adding thousands to the final purchase price of the car.

      I'll propose a solution: make cars smaller, and throw out all the electronic garbage (i.e. idiot screens) which does nothing but add weight and complexity to cars.

      There is certainly a "fat-car epidemic" in the process; every new model on the market is bigger and heavier than the model which it replaces, which, in these times of oil wars and global warming, is the polar opposite of the direction in which transportation should be heading. Sure, the new Accord may have a backseat big enough to do yoga in, and it may do 0-60 faster than most sports cars built before 1980, but are these "qualities" really important when 90% of the driving the owner will be doing is just hauling their (similarly overweight) ass to work and back?

      There is certainly a problem when a standard Porsche 911 (just for example) weighs more than most small sedans, and the Turbo tips (crushes) the scales at 3500 lb, more than a 3 Series (although the backseat is about as roomy as that of the B-M), and even the "stripped-out" GT3 comes with an idiot screen and weighs as much as the standard car, despite the "extensive" use of carbon fiber and the like.

      I'll give the 911 credit, though, for its slow weight gain: about 1000 pounds over 40+ years, whereas most cars have gained 1000 pounds in the last 20 years.
      • 7 Years Ago
      it's about time!

      it's truly scary to look back thru the past twenty years or so, and see curb weights from the early 80's.

      a subcompact like a Chevette or Honda Civic MIGHT max out at around 2,100 pounds. even full-frame, RWD mid-size cars would barely reach 3,000 pounds.

      now, it's not uncommon to have subcompacts pushing the 3,000 pound barrier. porky indeed.

      in all the efforts to create the tanks we drive today, we've drastically cut efficiency.

      I have to laugh now to see folks get all excited over some little teeny, death-defying car like a Honda Fit, and get all excited about 35 MPG highway.

      I've saved the window stickers from all of the new cars I've owned since 1974. here are some of the EPA ratings:

      -1978 Renault LeCar: 38-49

      -1980 Plymouth Champ: 34-46

      -1981 Pontiac Phoenix: 41-51

      -1987 Isuzu I-Mark: 37-41

      -1998 Dodge Neon: 29-41

      I obviously bought all of them for economy, and each one achieved or exceeded the EPA numbers.

      weight is indeed the enemy.

      AZMike
        • 7 Years Ago
        Dan,

        you might want to read my post again; I did indeed achieve the MPG numbers on every car. most of the time, I exceeded them. I drive like an old lady with an egg between my foot and the gas pedal.

        I have several large GM cars presently with the 3800 V-6 engine. I regularly achieve just under 35 MPG (34.1) on the highway, with average speeds around 75 MPH.

        when I lived in Los Angeles in the 70s-80s, I can remember consumer reporter David Horowitz (KNBC) taking a then-new Plymouth Champ with the smaller 1.4L/twin stick transmission (mine was a 1.6L/twin stick) on an economy run from Los Angeles to Las vegas at 55 MPH. his average MPG was over 56.

        the Champ was far from the only car that achieved numbers like this. Honda made the Civic and CRX, both in "HF" models. even later, the Metro XFI was available.

        AZMike
        • 7 Years Ago
        Driving as you say like 'an old lady', the Fit would probably get close to 40 mpg highway as well. And a more aerodynamic small car like the Civic will get 45.

        Compare apples to apples. Most cars sold today are a large and comfortable 3500lb with power to spare and consequent poor mileage, but eco boxes still exist if you want one and the mileage difference is not to get excited about.

        If 6 more gallons a month (12000 miles at 35mpg instead of 45) is the price of everything a 2008 Civic has over the 1988 model, that's a bargain.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You can't compare window stickers from the early 80s. The scoring procedure was changed in 1984 to reduce scores by 10 and 22% respectively.

        That "41/51" Pontiac Phoenix would be a 37/39 from 1985-2007.

        Weight is indeed the enemy of mileage, but it is the friend of safety and feature content. Both of which are much more important to me than mileage.
        • 7 Years Ago
        thats a cool comparison. and amazing, wish i saved all my window stickers.

        (also happy to say i never owned one of those cars, but it is obvious you were buying for efficency)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hopefully the Mercedes engineers have been reading this.

      • 7 Years Ago
      wow a 2700 pound z in 2015, that'll be impressive and fast....wonder if the VQ will be around then?
      • 7 Years Ago
      mmmmm... 350Z...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Most of today's vehicle's weight gains are attributed to safer construction and safety devices. I doubt that means Nissan will skimp on safety but it's still something to think about. Auto manufacturers have been busy for years de-contenting vehicles for both fewer parts and reducing cost.

      Lighter materials like aluminum, magnesium, titanium, carbon fiber and nanotubes and processes like honeycomb and space frame construction simply cost too much to replace steel in manufacturing. Guess that means they'll just have get more creative with their engineering?
        • 7 Years Ago
        I saw something on the Weather Network of all things about how one farmer is taking his used plastics and turning them into plastic-lumber. Weighs nothing and has the strength of stronger materials. Maybe something similar can be done through recycling... weigh the cost of recycling against exotic materials.
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