The automobile industry is also “shedding pounds” now. The lightweight vehicle technology, which was only applied to high-performance cars like supercar in the past, is now introduced to commercial vehicles after luxury sedans.
With Hyundai-Kia Motors as the central figure, most of new cars which were released in the first half of the year succeeded in reducing their weight. Automakers and component producers at home and abroad are reducing the weight of their products because countries are strengthening automotive environmental regulations. The governments will start implementing the new fuel economy regulation in 2020 – Korea with 24.3 km per liter, Europe with 26.5 km, the U.S. with 18.8 km and Japan with 20.3 km. When automakers cannot satisfy the fuel efficiency standards, they cannot sell their products. This is why they need to reduce the weight and exhaust gases while improving the fuel efficiency.
In general, every 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight can lead to 6 percent improvement in fuel economy. Also, it can reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 8.8 percent, carbon monoxide (CO) by 4.5 percent and hydrocarbon (HC) by 2.5 percent, respectively, while improving acceleration, steering and braking distance functions by 8 percent, 6 percent and 5 percent.
Accordingly, Hyundai-Kia Motors has also announced its plan to raise fuel efficiency by 25 percent by 2020, focusing on reducing the weight of their products. The Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid, which was launched earlier this year, delivers the best-in-class fuel efficiency of 22.4km/liter as of 15-inch-wheel by adapting 53% of the body with Advanced High Strength Steel. Advanced High Strength Steel is two times stronger and 10% lighter and thinner than normal sheet metal.
In addition, the company reduced the weight by introducing lightweight aluminum material for the hood, tailgate and chassis and tempered plastic material for fuel tank. The IONIQ Hybrid weighs as low as 1,380 kg, including battery. The product only weigh 30 kg more than the new Avante 1.6 Deisel weighing 1,350kg.
In particular, Hyundai Mobis adopted a heterogeneous material “clad metal” for busbar of the eco-friendly IONIQ models for the first time. A bus bar is a metallic strip or bar, usually in cars and airplanes, which conducts electricity within automotive application components. Most of existing bus bars are made of copper so they have a competitive edge in electric conductivity and machinability. However, they had limits to reduce the weight due to high density. Replacing copper with clad metal, the new bus bar is able to lower the weight by 45 percent compared with existing bus bars.
Plastics replacing glasses are also using in commercial vehicles. As the company introduces plastics in an aspheric lens of head lamp in a car, instead of glasses, it has reduced the weight by 40 percent. Since plastics have excellent transmission rates, refractive indexes, durability and processability with two times lighter weight than glasses, they are considered best alternative materials.
Currently, Hyundai Mobis is researching and developing a front end module (FEM) carrier to replace steel through R&D in high-strength continuous fiber composite materials, aiming to cut the weight by more than 25 percent. The company plans to focus on R&D in various lightweight technologies, such as extended application of aluminum and magnesium components, conjugation of dissimilar metals, high-strength composite materials and conjugation of metals and high molecules, in the future