In the auto industry, lightweight vehicles are all the craze. Ford is building an aluminum F-150, carbon fiber is steadily becoming more common and lightweight, high-strength steel is incorporated in even the most affordable of vehicles. The military is not immune to this trend, according to a new report from Military.com, which claims the US Army is targeting a 40-percent weight reduction in its armored vehicles.
Aluminum is the new buzzword in the automotive industry. The latest Range Rover and Range Rover Sport both take advantage of the lightweight material to shave huge amounts of body fat (only it's called "aluminium" over there). Audi and Jaguar have been using the stuff for years in their A8 and XJ, respectively, and now, aluminum is going mainstream, arriving on the 2015 Ford F-150.
With the 2025 CAFE target set at 54.5 miles per gallon, the race to develop fuel-efficient vehicles is on. According to Frost & Sullivan, this race to 54.5 will necessitate a healthy dose of lightweight automotive components.
In work recently published in the Journal of Applied Physics, a University of Technology Sydney (UTS) team led by professor Guoxiu Wang presented reproducible test results showing that graphene paper has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry. How? Well, researchers at UTS have milled raw graphite by purifying and filtering it with chemicals to reshape and reform it into graphene nanosheets. We should explain.
After analyzing 26 individual components in compact vehicles, the University of Aachen and the European Aluminium Association concluded that using aluminum in some automotive parts (illustrated by the graphic above) could safely reduce vehicle body weight by up to 40 percent, resulting in 2.7 more miles per gallon of gasoline burned or approximately a 10 percent reduction in overall fuel consumption.
Toray Industries, a leading producer of carbon fiber material, will begin supplying both Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru) with the lightweight product for use on upcoming vehicles. Toyota will reportedly use the carbon fiber to produce hoods and roofs for the Lexus LFA, a limited production sports car, and Fuji Heavy will offer optional carbon fiber roofs on several of Subaru's sportier offerings.
BMW and Mercedes are leading the way in using carbon fiber to reduce weight in future passenger vehicles. Losing pounds can also be key to meet upcoming CAFE regulations and can also help increase the range electric vehicles can travel. The shift towards carbon fiber will probably become more widespread throughout the automotive industry as companies realize the weight-saving benefits of this product versus steel. Though carbon fiber is touted for its low weight, a new report by Toyota and repor