New Lightweight Solutions Increase the Range of Electric Vehicles
The next generation of electric vehicles can achieve the range needed for a breakthrough with new design and manufacturing processes for lightweight components. AP&T develops production solutions for the automotive industry focussing weight, safety and energy efficiency.
For a long time, reducing vehicle weight was a top priority for automobile manufacturers worldwide. Lower weight results in lower petrol or diesel consumption and thus lower carbon dioxide emissions. Replacing conventionally manufactured body parts with components made of compression-hardened steel, a material that is both light and stable, makes it relatively easy to reduce weight without compromising safety. Most manufacturers can now see the first generations of weight-reduced vehicles in their rear-view mirrors. But the efforts involved in achieving further weight reductions is driven by ever stricter emission regulations and presents the designers of the next vehicle generation with new challenges.
AP&T has been developing press hardening solutions since the beginning of this century. The company has supplied more than a fifth of all press hardening systems that have so far been installed in the plants of automotive manufacturers and component suppliers worldwide.
"The press hardening systems we are currently developing are much more sophisticated and offer completely different possibilities than before. Thanks to state-of-the-art process control, each component can be provided with exactly the properties required. For example, you can combine softer zones in a single component," says Per Josefsson, Director Business Development and Marketing at AP&T. “However, it is not enough to replace a component with a corresponding part made of another material to succeed in the next major step of weight reduction. According to Josefsson, a holistic approach in the selection of materials, manufacturing processes and design is necessary to achieve an optimal solution.”
Complex Vehicle Components Made of High-Strength Aluminium
"Let's take a normal B-pillar as an example. Many manufacturers currently use press hardened steel for their B-pillars. However, instead of simply choosing a different material for this component, it may be better to choose a completely different design. The entire door recess can be made of one piece of high-strength aluminium, for example. The high strength is combined with a significantly lower weight than that of steel. This results in a rational production process and considerable weight savings."
In autumn 2017 AP&T presented the world's first production plant for the manufacture of complex formed vehicle components made of high-strength aluminium. This innovation has received international attention and an Altair Enlighten Award and SIQ Quality Innovation Award. Thanks to the new design and manufacturing possibilities for components made of lighter and more stable materials, conditions for a new shaft of weight reductions are created. This can significantly boost to the development of electric vehicles.
The Driving Forces for Further Weight Savings are High
"The driving forces for further weight savings are high, irrespective of the drive technology. However, we see the most interesting development in electric vehicles. If there are more light-weight solutions, fewer batteries are needed for a longer range. This is in line with market demand and the need to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable transport sector," says Josefsson.
This article was first published by blechnet.
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