Weight is without a doubt the enemy of efficiency. Once, all that extra heft was considered a safety feature, but with new technologies that make cars safer even at lighter weights, now it is considered more of a hindrance than anything. Yet, despite space age materials and new construction methods, most cars still weigh well over 3000 pounds. This has put automakers in an uphill battle, where they have to move increasingly heavier cars with smaller engines, while still maintaining some sort of “fun” factor while driving.
But a recent study by Lotus suggests that mainstream automakers could achieve a 38% reduction in the mass of the car (not including the drivetrain) — and thereby increase fuel efficiency 23% — yet only increase costs associated with the extra manufacturing by a scant 3%.
In order to lose all that weight, Lotus employed “mass reduction technology,” like efficient design, component integration, construction and material selection. Does that mean we will all be driving carbon fiber cars by 2020? Not likely. I do expect car parts to integrate more though, and for manufacturers to employ careful design to minimize weight and maximize aerodynamics. The most glaring part of this study though is it would cost automakers just 3% more to make these reductions. I wonder how safety would hold up?
Source: Green Car Advisor