29th May 2015 by David Mason
Following last week’s review of Dow’s runner-up entry, the final week of this look back at the 2014 Altair Enlighten Award brings us to the winner, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
The premium vehicle sector is often at the forefront of new lightweighting technologies as the high cost of non-traditional materials and manufacturing methods can be offset by the premium price of the product. Customers are looking for innovation and have the capacity to pay for the latest technologies and thus performance the industry has to offer.
In its entry, JLR highlighted its Light Weight Vehicle (LWV) strategy, a method of taking a holistic approach to CO2 reduction, through linked strategies of significant weight reduction in the body and chassis systems coupled with powertrain matching. Engineers could then implement related secondary weight savings in sub-systems like specifying smaller braking components. Throughout the design, JLR maximizing recycled material use and ultimately lowering energy consumption in the manufacturing stage.
The company was able to point to impressive weight savings between 400-500kg (900-1100lbs) relative to the previous Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models with improved attribute performance coupled with significant improvements in fuel economy and reduction in CO2 tail pipe emissions.
JLR also developed new computer aided engineering (CAE) techniques to simulate Crash, Durability and NVH attributes, as well as developing manufacturing simulation techniques for stamping, casting and joining the JLR LWV structures. These new CAE techniques enabled JLR to develop the LWV products in the virtual world to minimize any additional development testing with our LWV programs. JLR also stated it was the first OEM to manufacture aluminium intensive monocoque (unibody) riv-bonded structures in the same or less hours per car than an equivalent steel body.
The final results of the LWV strategy are impressive. JLR improved the fuel consumption of Range Rover and Range Rover Sports by over 20%, with improving ride, handling, braking and acceleration through weight reduction and lowering the vehicle center of gravity. The LWV bodies are stiffer and more refined, as well as having greater durability and corrosion resistance as a result of the bonded aluminium joints.
Although its Range Rovers may never be accurately described as a light vehicle when compared to smaller vehicles, they are striving to make these premium vehicles as efficient fuel efficient as possible. For our judging panel, it was JLR’s approach of taking a holistic view to meet its weight targets that gave it the edge over its competition and won it the 2015 Enlighten Award title. The company had looked for ways of minimizing weight from the vehicle’s inception, combining material, process, design and engineering technologies to great effect. Whether this approach to vehicle design will prove the standard for manufacturers in the future is yet to be seen but the LWV strategy is paying dividends for JLR.