TOKYO—One of the many ways to reduce the energy required for transportation is to make vehicles lighter. High-strength (HS) steels are perfect materials for this purpose, as their higher weight-to-strength ratio allows for the use of less metal to achieve a similar structural integrity. Many automobile companies believe HS steels will be essential for building cars in the future.
Lightweighting is the No. 1 challenge facing automotive engineers today. Manufacturers are scrambling to build vehicles that contain a variety of weight-saving materials, such as aluminum, carbon-fiber composites, high-strength steel, magnesium and plastic.
Back in the day, engines were the exclusive domain of cast iron and steel. But, during the past decade, more lightweight materials, such as aluminum and hard thermoplastics, have been slowly creeping under the hood. The Holy Grail, an engine made almost entirely out of plastic, is finally close to reality.
DEARBORN, MI—Roofs made of carbon fiber. Plastic windshields. Bumpers fashioned out of aluminum foam.What sounds like a science experiment could be your next car. While hybrids and electrics may grab the headlines, the real frontier in fuel economy is the switch to lighter materials.
Aluminum will play a growing role in the automotive industry in the years ahead. In fact, aluminum use in vehicles is projected to double by 2025, as automakers continue to roll out a wide variety of lighter weight models.