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Lightweight concept from Ford and Magna has “significant environmental benefits”


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February 2, 2015 by Canadian Plastics

Test car.

Test car.

A new multi-material lightweight vehicle (MMLV) concept car developed by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. in cooperation with Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. Department of Energy offers “clear advantages in terms of global warming potential and the use of energy.”

Aurora, Ont.-based Magna recently co-presented the test results with Ford at the SAE 2015 Government/Industry Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The 2013 Ford Fusion test vehicle uses a combination of aluminum, magnesium, titanium and carbon fibre to lower its from about 3,500 lbs. to approximately 2,700 lbs., which is about the same weight as the smaller Fiesta subcompact produced by Ford.

“As part of the presentation, results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) study were disclosed, in which the lightweight auto parts of the MMLV vehicle design were compared to the conventional auto parts of the baseline 2013 Ford Fusion,” Magna said in a statement. “The LCA study predicts that the cradle-to-grave total net savings of the MMLV (in percentage basis), relative to the cradle-to-grave LCA of the 2013 Fusion, resulted in significant environmental benefits of 16% improvement in global warming potential and 16% improvement in total primary energy (fuel usage plus the energy needed to produce and recycle materials).”

The LCA was conducted per the appropriate ISO standards and with guidance from the Canadian Standards Association, Magna said, and was performed by an outside, third-party consultant separate from Magna and Ford.

“The MMLV project shows the potential benefits of combining lightweight vehicle technologies and a downsized, high-output engine to reduce greenhouse gases and total energy,” said Swamy Kotagiri , Magna’s chief technical officer. “While this is a research prototype, the MMLV points the way to a more sustainable future. We…are working diligently to make these lightweight technologies affordable for high volume production.”

Magna will additionally present a series of white papers at SAE World Congress, held this April 21-23 in Detroit. These papers will provide additional details on the LCA and other tests which were conducted as part of the MMLV project and how the results were achieved.

The MMLV concept is based on the production version of a 2013 Ford Fusion and defines a new aluminum-intensive passenger-car structure. The concept, which also makes use of carbon fibre, magnesium and titanium, reduces the weight of the Fusion to that of a 2013 Ford Fiesta, magna said, making the weight of a CD segment family sedan approximately equal to that of a subcompact B-car – two vehicle segments lighter – without compromising performance or occupant safety.

“The project includes engineering, prototype vehicle build and selected validation testing associated with new aluminum-intensive passenger vehicle design architecture, facilitating an extensive use of advanced lightweight and high-strength materials, resulting in environmental and fuel-economy benefits,” Magna said.