STUTTGART—Engineers at Porsche AG and Alumobility, a global association that promotes aluminum use in the automotive industry, recently developed a “top hat” (the the upper structure of a vehicle’s body-in-white) that weighs 40 percent less than its steel counterpart.

The Alumobility-Porsche R&D project involved a theoretical case study focused on converting the existing steel-intensive mixed-material body top hat structure of the Porsche Taycan to an all-aluminum alternative, while maintaining attributes for safety, body stiffness and performance.

“[It] is a great benefit to get state-of-the art technical industry input regarding lightweight structures,” says Jens Christlein, director of research and development at Porsche AG. “The cooperation with Alumobility and its entire team was very efficient and provided many interesting features which will help us to optimize our cars further toward benchmarking performance.”

According to Christlein, the project demonstrated that aluminum-intensive vehicles offer manufacturing efficiency opportunities by reducing the number of parts, joint types and total joint count. In addition, the engineers discovered that recycled aluminum could lower lifetime emissions compared to steel alternatives.

“Our objective was to demonstrate that converting the Taycan top hat to aluminum would deliver weight, [emissions] and complexity reduction without sacrificing performance, safety or appearance, and we delivered on that target,” claims Mark White, Ph.D., technical director at Alumobility. “Working with a partner like Porsche is a great step for advancing [our] mission of conducting technical studies that showcase how aluminum is the material of choice for the future of mobility.”

Alumobility is comprised of aluminum producers such as Constellium and Novelis, plus “downstream partners” such as ARO Technologies and Atlas Copco.