aci_october2016Lighter and Brighter

Stakeholders across the industry are being impacted by the fast changing events across the automotive ecosystem. To prepare for the next decade, automotive companies are working rigorously and trying to meet the 3 basic megatrends: Going green, connected and lighter. They travel in different directions to the same destination of fuel economy, which in turn reduces the blacked out gas.

As the government has decided to move directly from BS IV to BS VI emission norms by 2020, the automotive manufacturers have asked the government to make available the BS VI- compliant fuel across the country. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, through a notification dated September 16, 2016, has given the Union Petroleum Ministry 4 years to make BS VI fuels. The oil companies will have to invest more than Rs 60,000 crore for that.

The public pressure to improve fuel economy is rising, owing to the concern about the prospect of global climate change and also for arresting cost increase. The key for improving fuel economy is weight reduction as fuel consumption depends directly on the weight of a vehicle. The automotive industry has been reducing weight by downsizing. It took nearly 20 years to reduce about 500kg. This strategy has reached its limits. Substantial improvements will be possible only through making vehicles with lighter but stronger materials.

Lightweighting and engine efficiency programmes continue to top the list of strategies of the automakers as the industry looks for ways to meet the 2025 CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. With the mid-term review of the 2025 CAFE Standards scheduled in 2017, a study says that around 87% of the people expect the standards for fuel economy and emissions to become more stringent or remain the same. The automakers seem to be focussed on the use of lightweight structural materials to meet the standards. It is a big task and a heavy burden on them to meet the demand for light weight, formability and safety of the vehicle and its occupants.

Our cover story for the current issue is on lightweighting which lies heavy on the industry. We have covered very promising and successful initiatives by some of the prominent automotive manufacturers and component suppliers. Meeting all the challenges in making the vehicles lighter is the main objective and also challenge for the industry. There is always a trade-off of losing something to get something better. Materials like aluminium, multi-material solutions, advanced composites, engineered plastics and advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) may cost more but the outcome will be lighter and the future will be brighter.

Let’s make things lighter for a brighter future

Wish you happy reading

Bhargav TS
Executive Editor

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