Lotus reports promising results from production car lightweighting study

Lotus says 38 percent reduction in vehicle mass, excluding powertrain, can be achieved for a 3 percent increase in component costs using engineering techniques and technologies viable for mainstream production programs by 2020.

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A veteran firm in the supercar and Formula 1 racing world, Lotus Engineering (Norwich, U.K.) recently reported that it has conducted an encouraging study in search of a commercially viable mass-reduction strategy for mainstream passenger vehicles. Released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT, Washington, D.C., www.theicct.org), the study focused on the use of lightweight materials and efficient design for substantial mass savings. When compared with a benchmark Toyota Venza crossover utility vehicle, the study’s passenger car concept showed that a 38 percent reduction in vehicle mass (excluding the power train) can be achieved with only a 3 percent increase in component costs by using engineering techniques and technologies that could be viable for mainstream production programs by 2020. The 2020 vehicle architecture uses a mix of stronger and lighter materials, a high degree of component integration and advanced joinery and assembly methodologies. Based on U.S. Department of Energy estimates, a total vehicle mass reduction of 33 percent (excluding the power train), as demonstrated on the 2020 passenger car model, will result in a 23 percent reduction in fuel consumption.