19th July 2016 by Richard Yen
On today’s look back at last year’s Altair Enlighten award we’re reviewing a full vehicle nomination from Chinese motor company, BAIC. Its BJ40 model is an off-road capable vehicle which shares a similar design, from an aesthetics point of view at least, with a Jeep.
For its nomination, BAIC took a multi-material approach to reducing weight, replacing the previous steel vehicle model with a mixture of carbon fiber reinforced plastics and aluminium. The team combined these materials with a wide range of design optimization studies to generate material efficient guidelines for the vehicle’s hood, lower control arm, door, car-roof, chair skeleton, frame and more.
BAIC pointed to a selection of impressive weight saves in the vehicle. The new engine hood was 12.5 kg lighter than the previous model thanks to the use of CFRP compared to traditional steel. Similarly the new CFRP roof panels saved an additional 5 kg.
Furthermore, steel tubes were replaced with Mg-Al profile alternatives in the rear seat frames for another 7 kg saving while design optimization studies took another 2 kg out of the lower control arm with the aid of swapping the stamped component with an aluminium casting.
Finally, the thickness of the frame itself was optimized using size optimization techniques to take another 15 kg from the BJ40.
We’re always excited to receive a full vehicle entry from an automotive OEM as they often exhibit the largest weight savings over previous year models. The OEM is able to design a vehicle from the ground up to take weight into consideration in a way that suppliers are not able to, which leads to some interesting entries. BAIC’s entry continued this trend of delivering weight savings from throughout the vehicle and by using both material replacement and material reduction strategies. I expect we will see an Enlighten Award winner from China’s constantly growing and innovating automotive companies very soon.
Download a PDF of this nomination – Off-road-Vehicle-Technology-Center