Winners of the Enlighten Award Announced
FCA, Toyota, Faurecia and AP&T have received this year's Altair Enlighten Award. Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) are presenting the 5th Enlighten Award for innovations in lightweight automotive construction and promote them.
In the category "Full Vehicle" the winner in 2017 is Chrysler’s Pacifica. This vehicle is an impressive 113 kilograms lighter than its predecessor. Toyota's carbon fiber closure panel for the 2017 Prius Prime and Lexus LC500 as well as Faurecia's Adaptive Valve for exhaust systems used in the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado share first place in the "Modules" category. The Swedish forming specialist AP&T won the "Enabling Technology" category. The company received the award for its aluminium forming technology, which is used in various European vehicles.
76 kg Lighter Body
The FCA team has redesigned the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica from scratch to deliver a vehicle that is lighter, offers improved safety features and NVH performance as well as larger interior space and comfort. The body, which is now 76 kg lighter, consist of high-strength steel, a large quantity of dual-phase steel and hot-pressed materials to increase safety in the event of a collision. Aluminium and cast magnesium have been used in the sliding doors, tailgate and dashboard beams, while the front module is a steel-plastic injection molded part that improves component integration and rigidity. Simulation methods such as topology optimization were used throughout the vehicle to ensure a material-efficient design.
“The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is our developers' response to the rapidly changing industry environment," said Phil Jansen, Head of Product Development — FCA North America. Customers are demanding more and more efficiency, but not at the expense of functionality. "The Pacificas' generous cabinet, which we were able to design with less material, has enabled us to exceed expectations."
Module Category: Toyota and Faurecia Share First Place
In the module category, which is awarded for vehicle systems, subsystems and components, the jury could not decide which candidate deserves first place, so Toyota and Faurecia now share this prize. Toyota received the award for the side and luggage doors of the 2017 Lexus LC as well as the tailgate of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime — all of these parts are manufactured with inner panels made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) combined with aluminium, glass fiber reinforced plastic and polypropylene on the outside. In this way, it has been possible to produce components that are altogether 47 % lighter than components made of conventional metal structures.
“Toyota is pleased to offer locking systems that are optimized for the specific application of each individual vehicle," said JP Flaharty, Executive Program Manager at Toyota Motor North America R&D. “The use of CFRP in the Prius Prime tailgate and the Lexus side and luggage doors allows our customers to see for themselves the ease of movement and high-tech appearance of these sophisticated, lightweight door systems. Our entire development team is honored to receive the Altair Enlighten Award in the Modules category."
Valve Flap Design Reduces Silencer Weight by 12 kg
Faurecia's winning entry was the Adaptive Valve, a valve that is used inside the pipe of the exhaust system. Its specific purpose is to address NVH problems caused by cylinder deactivation. It does so by exposing the gas flow to variable restriction. The valve flap takes up less space than traditional systems and its innovative design has enabled the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado to reduce the muffler's weight by 12 kg.
Aluminium Forming Technology Enables Weight Savings of 30 to 50 %
AP&T takes first place in the Enabling Technology category — a new prize introduced in 2017 for technological advances that enable manufacturers to save weight. The company's aluminum forming technology is the world's first production line for high-strength aluminum sheet metal. It offers greater flexibility and weight savings of 30-50 % when forming high-strength automotive components with complex shapes.
“For AP&T, it is a special honor to receive the 2017 Enlighten Award," said Christian Koroschetz, CTO, Technology Development at AP&T. “This award is an award for the entire AP&T team, which continuously helps our customers to produce lighter, safer and more energy-efficient products with less impact on the climate and the environment. The multi-purpose production line we have developed offers outstanding flexibility in forming high-strength aluminium components (AA6xxx and AA7xxx) and increases design freedom. It also offers a completely new form of function and component integration."
Simulation Software Plays a Central Role
Second place in the Full Vehicle category went to Honda for its multi-material frame, which has made the 2017 Acura NSX 22 kg lighter. Constellium took second place in the category Enabling Technology for the aluminum alloy HSA6TM, which allows for the development of vehicles that are 15-30 % lighter than those using conventional aluminum alloys of the 6000 series.
“I would like to thank all participants, finalists, runners-up and winners personally for participating in this year's Altair Enlighten Award," said Richard Yen, Senior Vice President Global Automotive at Altair. “By sharing our experience and expertise on the occasion of this award, we can jointly meet the challenges of weight and CO2 reduction. The contributions of the Full Vehicle and Module categories show that simulation software plays a central role in almost all projects, especially regarding design optimization technologies for innovative and material-efficient products."
The Altair Enlighten Award recognizes achievements in lightweight automotive design each year. It aims to stimulate the interest of decision-makers, educators, students and the general public to promote competition in the development of new ideas in the industry and to increase the incentive to share technological advances. The jury of the award is made up of experts from the automotive industry, academia and the trade press from all over the world, who have discussed and evaluated the advantages of each of the 29 entries in detail.
This article was first published by konstruktionspraxis.
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