Mahindra and Maruti say lighter cars are a good thing: Car safety and weight

With the growing conversation about the safety of new cars, the nation’s largest manufacturers are now scratching their heads about making cars safer.For a long time, people have associated heavier cars with greater safety.However, Mahindra’s head of global product development R Velusamy believes this is a misunderstanding.“Once you decide to achieve 5-star safety, you have no choice but to reduce the weight of the vehicle,” he said at the 2021 Young Quant conference organized by Autocar Professional.
Velusamy mentioned that in order to increase efficiency and reduce the overall mass of the vehicle, manufacturers should look for alternative materials.He pointed out the importance of reducing the weight of the car to improve safety and mentioned some insights about the structure of the XUV700.
During the meeting, the head of product development revealed that they lost 110kg from Mahindra’s latest SUV, the XUV700.To achieve this feat, he added, they had to innovate in design and use high-strength steel when building the vehicle.Velusamy also stated that they were able to shave about 15-20kg off the tailgate by just making the tailgate out of plastic composite.In Global NCAP’s crash tests, the XUV700 earned a full 5-star safety rating, due to the vehicle’s lighter weight and fewer other components.
Regarding alternative materials for car manufacturing, Velusamy said that aluminum is considered one of the key new materials.However, due to the high cost, other metals such as high-strength steel, advanced high-strength steel, ultra-high-strength steel and boron steel can also be used in various parts of the vehicle to increase stiffness and reduce weight.
In addition, he said “you need to pay a lot of attention to body-in-white quality”.Body-in-white or body-in-white; a body frame that has been joined together, i.e. before painting and before integrating electric motors, chassis subassemblies, or any trim into the structure.
Other parts of the vehicle such as doors, fenders, hood and suspension are also areas where alternative materials can be used to save weight.“In terms of powertrain, you can also save a lot of weight. The aluminium block improves the manufacturing and can save 30-35kg,” Velusamy added.Continuing, “The beam and steering wheel are candidates for magnesium. Plastic can do wonders for areas like the fenders and tailgate.”
In addition, the main person in charge from Mahindra also said that with the popularity of EVs, the weight will increase.Therefore, reducing the need to explore new materials will become necessary.
“Customers want quality products and designs will change as they demand improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels, ride and handling, best-in-class safety and technical features. Automakers need to innovate to reduce vehicle weight, “Velusamy stressed the need to keep consumers’ needs in mind and prioritise their interests.
At the same session, CV Raman, CTO of Maruti Suzuki India, also drew attention to another sensitive topic, emissions.“The regulatory landscape in India is changing. Going forward, we will soon see CAFE norms, BS6 Stage 2 (RDE) and more. Also, lightweighting plays a key role in reducing emissions,” Raman said.He further added: “A 10% weight reduction can improve fuel efficiency by 3-4% and reduce emissions by 3-4 grams (per kilometer).”
CTOs at the meeting mentioned the use of higher-strength steel for their company’s vehicle structures.In addition, he mentioned the company’s Heartect platform.The platform enables automakers to improve structural and torsional stiffness, increase strength while reducing weight, helping them reduce emissions.
Maruti succeeded in significantly reducing the weight of the car with the transition to the fifth-generation Heartect A architecture.Some of these examples are their products, such as the current-generation Swift, which is 125kg lighter than the first-generation model in 2005.In addition, the latest Celerio is also 15-25kg lighter than the outgoing car, even with a significantly increased footprint and added new features.In addition, the brand’s latest K10C engine has played a major role in making the Celerio India the most fuel-efficient petrol car in India.
Raman also mentioned the use of plastic for fuel tanks, adding that using plastic instead of metal could help reduce vehicle weight by 30 percent.Additionally, this helps with rust-related issues and simplifies the packaging of these boxes in the car.He also added: “Even in the powertrain, there has been a significant increase in the number of plastic components replacing metal, reducing weight by 30% and cost by 47%,” he said.
On the same topic, he further stated: “Going forward, the use of composite materials can reduce the weight of CNG cylinders by 50-60%. This will help reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, improve efficiency and enable the use of hydrogen-CNG mixtures, This could have wide-ranging implications.” While continuing, “In EVs, the extra battery weight is a challenge. We all need to look at battery platforms, substitute materials and use advanced high-strength steels. There needs to be an entirely new platform to develop light-duty electric vehicles.”
In a further discussion of climate change, Raman elucidates the contribution of India’s transport sector to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which account for 13 percent.Although this is less than the EU, it is still important.He added that cars and SUVs in India account for 40-45% of vehicle emissions.Two-wheelers also contributed a similar share.While the rest are rounded up by commercial vehicles.
Raman added: “We will face many challenges in order to achieve the goals set by our Prime Minister at COP 26. When you look at per capita income in India, it is lower compared to China. Our passenger car penetration 13 in 1,000 with 13 million two-wheelers. These challenges are unique to India. But one thing is clear, we need to reduce emissions.”
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Post time: Jan-10-2022

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