Writing in Light Metal Age, Andrew Halonen of Mayflower Consulting provides an overview of weight optimization considerations for electric vehicles through a combination of design and material selection.
Halonen is president of Mayflower, a lightweighting consultancy that provides strategic marketing, market research, and business development for high tech clients. Halonen works with castings, extrusions, brakes, and new material development programs.
Although some systems within a vehicle are difficult to change (e.g., battery pack, motor), the decision matrix for materials selection for the remainder of the vehicle offers many more options, Halonen points out.
Opportunities exist in chassis, suspension and brake systems. Within each of those, there are a variety of options in terms of weight and cost. As just one example, Halonen points out that:
Mayflower Consulting predicts that the steel industry will soon be able to provide suspension arms as a one-piece stamping, further reducing weight and cost. To OEMs, this competitive landscape makes for better options to develop a profitable vehicle. However, for materials suppliers, it forces them to innovate in order to survive.
As materials producers across the board continue to innovate, it presents a challenge for OEMs in selecting between all of the available options. For suspension components, automakers have many options for producing front lower control arms, including forged aluminum, cast aluminum, and welded steel. There are also options for stamped steel and cast ductile iron, presenting a total of five choices for OEMs—just for a lower control arm.
Halonen further discusses brake systems materials and subframes.
Halonen’s article is in June 2021 issue of Light Metal Age.