2013 Toyota Avalon loses 50 kg compared to predecessor; lightest-weight vehicle in the premium mid-size segment
Toyota’s new 2013 Avalon (earlier post) is 110 lbs. (50 kg) lighter than the 2012 model, tipping the scales at 3,461 lbs. (1,570 kg), compared to 3,571 (1,620 kg) for its predecessor. When it arrives at dealerships later this year, the 2013 Avalon will be the lightest-weight vehicle in the premium mid-size segment, according to Toyota.
Engineering for weight reduction requires examination of all elements of vehicle design and componentry to achieve weight targets and requires collaboration from vehicle design teams to isolate and address a variety of potential weight-loss areas during development.
Following this process, Avalon Chief Engineer Randy Stephens and his development team at Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Mich. were able to achieve significant mass reduction in several key areas such as body structure, seat structure and wheel design.
It proved to be a challenge, Toyota said, due to the weight penalty imposed by equipment necessitated by increased regulations, improved performance targets and added customer features. With each design engineering group’s agreement, mass targets were set and managed to control the overall vehicle target.
We established two main mass targets early in development: lowest mass among competitors (mass vs. vehicle size) and reduction of one inertia weight class rank. As part of each design engineering group’s agreement, mass targets were set for each group. The groups then managed their part by part mass to keep their target and help control the overall goal. Hundreds of mass reduction ideas were tracked throughout development and periodic reviews checked status.—Dave Katarzynski, Program Manager of Avalon Vehicle Development
The importance of mass reduction as a means of improving fuel economy, vehicle dynamics and enhancing the driving experience of the new Avalon was a major consideration.
Less mass makes Avalon more responsive and engaging near handling limits. Also, with less mass, less tire width is needed to reach competitive grip levels. The smaller width helps minimize drag losses to help enhance fuel economy, too.—Stephen Provost, Manager, Ride and Handling
Lower vehicle weights were achieved utilizing revised lighter weight materials for vehicle construction.
Through the installation of a higher class of high performance polypropylene resin (more fluid), we were able to decrease the general thickness of the front and rear bumpers, resulting in a decrease in mass, aiding in achieving improved fuel economy. Also, by adopting a higher content of high-strength steel in the pillars and rocker panels, we were able to conserve mass while maintaining crash performance targets.—Rob McConnell, Principal Engineer, Body Shell and Exterior Plastics
Generous weight reduction of 263 lbs. is also evident in the midsize Camry Hybrid from previous generation to current model (3,680 lbs. for 2011 Camry Hybrid vs. 3,417 lbs. for 2012 model), and
Despite increased length and width, the new 2013 Avalon Hybrid (earlier post) still enjoys a weight advantage over the smaller, previous generation 2011 Camry Hybrid. (The 2012 Camry Hybrid features a 263-lb weight reduction compared to the 2011 model–3,417 lbs. vs. 3,680 lbs.)
Though the 2011 Camry Hybrid and the 2013 Avalon Hybrid both include the Hybrid Synergy Drive hardware (electric motors, battery, power control unit, etc.), the new 2013 Avalon model still weighs 87 lbs. (39 kg) less than the smaller 2011 Camry Hybrid—3,593 lbs. (1,630 kg) for 2013 Avalon compared to 3,680 lbs. (1,669 kg) for 2011 Camry).
The 2013 Avalon offers a combined 40 mpg EPA-rating while the 2011 Camry Hybrid was EPA-rated at 33 mpg combined. This is as much a testament to engineering weight reduction into the vehicle structure as it is to powertrain developments that reduce component mass and overall friction in the name of efficiency.
To improve the vehicle’s fuel economy we focused on reducing the vehicle’s resistance which lowers the engine’s effort and fuel consumption. One resistance area we worked on is reducing the vehicle’s weight. With reduced vehicle weight, there is less resistance to accelerate the vehicle. Lower vehicle weight also reduces the vehicle’s tire rolling resistance allowing it to roll more freely.—Tin Bui, a Toyota engineer in charge of Avalon fuel economy and road load development