8th August 2012
Mazda has set itself a new ambitious design goal, to eliminate at least 220 pounds (100 kg) of weight every time it redesigns one of its models. The company has undoubtedly made a strong start in acheiving this goal by utilizing an approach it calls SkyActiv. The combination of design optimization and use of material substitution made its CX-5 575 pounds (261 kg) lighter than its similar-sized predecessor, the CX-7.
An article on Automotive News explains that automakers are pursuing such ambitious targets as they work to meet stricter government fuel-economy standards across Europe, Asia and America. Meanwhile, engineers working to take weight out are constantly battling safety and emissions regulations and consumer demand for more comfort and convenience features, all of which add weight.
“Obviously that’s going to get harder and harder,” Dave Coleman, vehicle development engineer for Mazda’s North American operations, told Automotive News after speaking to the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars today. “We focused so much on the low-hanging fruit that we still have a lot of room.”
Norhiro Tomita, Program Manager, Vehicle Development Division discusses the development of lightweight chassis
Weight reduction engineering follows Mazda’s gram strategy, such as reshaping seat bolt heads to reduce bolt weight by 8 g (0.28 oz) each. And there is a high-temperature plastic water pump impeller that is lighter than the previous steel impeller pump and 23% more efficient.
Coleman said Mazda will need to employ more advanced materials in future generations of SkyActiv models. He said their cost will inevitably come down as they become more widely used throughout the industry. But he admits that weight reduction can only go so far, “or eventually, they’ll not weigh anything.”
Read the full article on Automotive News