FEV Study Finds Significant Weight Loss Possible For Cars

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(credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

(credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

AUBURN HILLS — FEV Inc., a developer of advanced powertrain and vehicle technologies, announced hat it has completed a Phase 2 Light-Duty Vehicle Mass Reduction and Cost Analysis Study under contract to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The Mass Reduction Study follows up on an earlier, independent, phase 1 study by a third party for the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The results indicate that, when mass reduction strategies are considered using a full-vehicle approach, significant mass reduction (approaching 20 percent) can be achieved assuming comparable performance, including crashworthiness.

FEV was selected for the study based on its position as a long-time EPA research partner, and the experience it gained in conducting a cost analysis of the development and operation of fuel efficient powertrain technologies. That program involved determining the incremental direct manufacturing costs for a set of advanced light-duty vehicle technologies. The same costing methodology was applied to the Mass Reduction Study.

“FEV is perhaps best known for our capabilities in powertrain design, development and calibration,” said Gary Rogers, president and CEO of FEV Inc. “However over the last 15 years, we have significantly expanded our work in vehicle engineering and production cost reduction or value engineering. The combination of this experience in powertrain and vehicle development gives us a rather unique ability to tackle future challenges related to cost effective solutions for meeting fuel economy and greenhouse gas mandates.”

FEV’s Mass Reduction Study builds on the phase 1 analysis in several ways, including incorporating powertrain mass-reduction ideas which were not part of the phase 1 analysis; utilizing advance computer aided engineering tools to develop and validate the mass-reduction modification to the body-in-white structure, where mass-reduction could have significant impact on vehicle safety; and determining the net incremental direct manufacturing cost impact of vehicle mass-reduction.

The project, which used a 2010 model year Toyota Venza as the baseline vehicle, targeted a vehicle mass reduction of 20 percent with direct manufacturing cost impact of 0 percent for a 2017-2020 model year program. FEV considered all components and assemblies in the Venza systems and subsystems as available options for mass reduction, but no functional or performance degradation was permitted from the baseline vehicle. The Venza was the same vehicle-type used in the Phase 1 study to ensure optimal continuity between the two studies.

Analyses for the project began with the evaluation of mass reduction opportunities presented in the phase 1 report. Investigation of additional mass reduction opportunities — including those not covered in the original report, namely powertrain/vehicle systems, were included in the final analysis by FEV.

All ideas were evaluated in terms of mass reduction magnitude, incremental manufacturing costs, incremental tooling cost impact, product function and performance degradation risk, manufacturing feasibility, and 2017-plus production year readiness.  Design, material, and manufacturing processes likely to be available for the 2017-2020  model year timeframe were considered in the mass reduction technology analysis.

For the midsize crossover utility vehicle, a 312-kilogram (687-pound) or 18.3 percent vehicle mass-reduction was achieved. The vehicle systems which provided the largest contribution to vehicle mass-reduction included:  body-in-white by 12.9 percent (4 percent of vehicle), suspension by 27.7 percent (3.9 percent of vehicle), body interior (e.g. seats, instrument panel, interior trim) by 19 percent (2.5 percent of vehicle), followed by brakes, engine and transmission systems contributing a combined 4.8 percent vehicle mass-reduction.

Over the long-run, the cost impact of these new technologies, when combined with secondary mass savings, is also expected to result in an overall reduction in vehicle direct manufacturing costs.  To achieve an 18.3 percent vehicle mass-reduction, the analysis suggested a net incremental direct manufacturing cost savings of $148 per vehicle with an increase in tooling cost increase of $23 million.

Additional details on the project methodology and findings can be found in the published report “Light-Duty Vehicle Mass Reduction and Cost Analysis – Midsize Crossover Utility Vehicle,” available at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/solutions-vehicle.htm.

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