Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lightweight EEV essential to competitiveness


A VEHICLE is recognized as an “energy efficient vehicle” (EEV) only if it is able to fulfill the stipulated distance travelled over a given quantity of fuel (energy), as well as satisfy the allowable exhaust emission level of detrimental greenhouse gases.
Towards this end, many car makers have adopted various approaches to achieve the EEV status for their vehicles.
In a decade or so, Asian car makers, particularly the Japanese, would be introducing the hybrid power train EEVs while the European car makers would prefer to enhance internal combustion engines (ICE) powered by diesel fuel from fossil or bio diesel to achieve EEV objectives.
Of late, however, the European car makers have started to introduce hybrid vehicles into the EEV market while advancing the diesel ICE power train.
While the power train advancement remains in the forefront of developmental endeavors among EEV car makers, the vehicle’s weight, too, has been recognized as a major criteria of a successful EEV.
Vehicle weight will become crucial as the global mobility moves towards full electric power train.
Global automotive researchers and engineers are aggressively looking for ways to reduce weight of nearly every part of a vehicle in their efforts to achieve an EEV with higher fuel economy.
This is becoming more crucial as the United States government has now mandated a 23.2 km/liter (54.5 miles/gallon) average fuel consumption for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025.
Since the invention of automobiles, car makers have been incrementally adding weight to their vehicles.
Due to the need to reduce fuel consumption and global demand for lower emission, vehicle dead weight has become a major criterion in automotive design. It is postulated that vehicles dead weight will be significantly reduced to some 10 to 15 percentage of 2010 baseline by 2025.
Dead weight is a measure of the maximum weight a vehicle can
safely carry during mobility, which includes the vehicle’s weight and
the sum of allowable passengers and its cargo.
The current popular practice focuses on weight reduction of selective components to reduce the total vehicle weight.
Although this is an acceptable approach, such practices are deem to take a longer time frame to achieve the best possible dead weight of a vehicle being produced.
Dead weight designation during the early stage of development will govern the designers to select the most suitable systems and materials to achieve the targeted weight.
It will serve as a driving force in ensuring that component vendors at all levels continuously seek new materials for weight reduction.
However, balancing the cost differential between the new and current materials and processes is a factor to be considered to avoid the possible setback upon adoption of the dead weight designation approach.
An increase in manufacturing and materials cost is not always a good excuse for the price increase of a vehicle.
Therefore, car makers need to recognize weight reduction strategies in one way or another, either selective components weight reduction or dead weight designation during the early stage of vehicle development.
Failing to explore possibilities of materials and processes for reducing weight of vehicles being developed will render the car makers less competitive in the world of the EEV market.

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