12th July 2017 by Richard Yen
This week, we’re going to be taking a look at the nominees for the full vehicle category for last year’s Altair Enlighten Award. Whereas the supplier categories provides an insight into specific applications of materials or technologies to reduce weight, the full vehicle category demonstrates the holistic approaches taken by carmakers.
First up is GM and its Cadillac XT5, a luxury crossover SUV and replaces the company’s SRX model. The vehicle was designed on a completely new architecture and followed the wider philosophy within General Motors of doing more with less. Unlike the approaches taken by many other manufacturers, the weight saving approach did not include a great deal of premium materials such as aluminum or magnesium. Instead, optimization technologies that allow the engineering teams to identify areas of the body and chassis structures where material can be removed without impacting performance.
In addition to design optimization strategies, GM highlighted several other technologies and innovations employed on the XT5 to shave further weight. The vehicle features an increased use of structural adhesives to replace welded joints compared to the SRX predecessor and the vehicle’s mechanical park brake was changed to a Motor on Caliper (MoC) design, reducing the weight of the system.
Furthermore, the team employed some innovative approaches to noise and vibration management within the vehicle’s interior, using lightweight dissipative acoustic technologies (floor carpet and inner dashmat), saving 20-25% mass over the conventional solutions typically used to meet the noise and vibration requirements of premium vehicles.
The body also applied increased structural adhesives. The parking brake was reduced by switching from a mechanical park brake to Motor on Caliper (MoC) design.
The combination of approaches led to a vehicle that is 292lbs lighter than the SRX it replaces, despite the fact that the car includes many more features such as Stop/start, AWD disconnect, 8 speed automatic transmission, and Active Fuel Management.
Although the XT5 did not take the top honors at during the 2016 award, it stands as an exceptional entry and demonstrates that strategies outside of material substation alone can lead to impressive weight savings and fuel efficiency gains.