Why Weight is So Critical in Todays Vehicles


Automakersare also under pressure from consumers to offer more luxury and safetyfeatures, while new government regulations outline more stringent fueleconomy standards. Although this sounds like a losing battle, itdoesn't have to be. All vehicle manufacturers today are hard at workexploring innovative new technologies and materials that reduce weight,improve performance and increase fuel economy.
Vehicles that are on the drawing boards of automakers today are all onstringent weight-loss programs. The resulting and inevitable pushtowards lightweight cars and trucks will result in a more durableproduct requiring less maintenance and featuring improved efficiency.
Traditional iron engine blocks have been dropped in favor oflightweight aluminum and magnesium alloys that reduce significantweight under the hood (and improve driving dynamics). Heavy,corrosion-prone metal body panels have been replaced with lightweightcomposite pieces that are rust and dent-resistant, while steelsuspension components have given way to lighter aluminum alloys thatpay off via better handling and a smoother ride. On many cars, theheavy steel used around the windshield surround is now an advancedBoron alloy that is lighter, stronger and safer than the steel itreplaced.
Inside the vehicle, heavy strands of copper wiring are being replacedby single wires carrying multiple signals, or by thin fiber opticcables. Most of the steel inside the seats and dashboard has beenreplaced by lightweight alloys and plastics, and incandescent bulbs arenow miniature circuit-mounted light-emitting diodes (LED). Even the glass in thewindows-a significant component of added weight-is being redesigned tobe thinner yet just as quiet and durable.
It is understandable why after a couple decades of unchecked gains, allautomakers are taking a much closer look at the weight going into theirproducts. When passenger safety, vehicle longevity, performance andfuel economy are taken into measure, every ounce really counts.

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