The reduction of fuel consumption and emissions is of central importance in vehicle construction. To produce more efficient and lower-emission vehicles, automotive manufacturers are focusing on lightweight design and consumption-optimized drive systems. ContiTech is supporting its customers with innovative lightweight design solutions. Here is an overview of the latest developments:
Intelligent Passenger Compartment Solutions for Lightweight Vehicles
Huge weight savings can be achieved with modern passenger compartment materials. This is where Benecke-Kaliko comes in with its lightweight construction solutions. The ultralight Xpreshn Light and Xpreshn HD Light decorative foils, for instance, offer vehicle manufacturers the ability to reduce the weight of their vehicles without the purchasers having to accept lower quality or, even, lower comfort as a result. The materials for instrument panels, door trims, consoles, scoops, the heel mat, tray areas, pillars, seat backs and floor coverings even feel softer and more pleasing still than other foil products.
Another lightweight construction solution is Benecke-Kaliko’s Acella Light trim and upholstery material for seats, consoles and decorative elements. The material weighs 20 percent less than comparable standard surface materials. The Yorn Light foil solution is used for instrument panels, door trims, consoles, head restraints, seat backs, tray areas and pillars. This environment-friendly and inexpensive surface material for vehicle interiors enables weight savings of up to 50 percent compared with standard decorative materials, and its carbon footprint is up to 46 percent smaller than standard PVC foils.
If lighter foils are used consistently, up to 2 kg can be saved per vehicle, Benecke-Kaliko’s experts have calculated.
High-performance plastics for mounting elements
The strut mount specialist ContiTech Vibration has developed a strut mount in which fiberglass-reinforced BASF Ultramid polyamide is also used as the primary structural component. It is the first strut mount made of this material, which is used both at the front and rear axle in the chassis environment of passenger cars. The strut mount offers significant advantages over traditional variants made from steel or aluminum: a weight reduction of around 25 percent and a longer service life. At the same time, a highly insulating rubber element enhances ride comfort.
ContiTech Vibration Control has been developing light weight products, using BASF Ultramid material, for the automotive industry since 2006. Product solutions include heavy-duty engine mounts and lightweight transmission crossmember from the lightweight material to support the forces and torques of the engine transmission unit. The weight is 50 percent less compared to an aluminum component. In 2014, ContiTech presented the first rear axle transmission crossmember made from this high-performance polyamide. ContiTech has already delivered millions of torque rod supports and torque reaction mounts made from polyamide.
Weight-reduced air springs
For the latest generation of the Mercedes Actros series, ContiTech has developed weight-reduced air springs. What makes this family of air springs so special is the lightweight, patented plastic pistons. Compared with the use of steel components, the weight of the vehicle can be reduced by 12 kilograms per axle. In addition to the potential fuel saving and the related reduction in CO2 emissions, the low weight also enables an increase in payload. The internal volume of the piston can also be fully utilized thanks to a special new manufacturing process, which considerably increases the comfort of the air suspension.
Turbocharger hose assembly weighs less
A modular design of turbocharger hose assembly is made up of a flexible rubber hose and a plastic pipe. The use of a high-performance plastic allowed a significant weight saving of up to 15 percent over a steel pipe to be achieved. That helps to save fuel and reduces the vehicles’ CO2 emissions. The hose assembly was developed for three- and four-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines. It adapts to the tight contours in the engine compartment and withstand temperatures of up to 220°C and pressures of up to 2.6 bar. Furthermore, the flexible lines combined with quick connectors ensure quick and easy fitting in the customer’s plant.
Double-sided timing belt for powering balance shafts
The ContiTech Power Transmission Group has developed a new double-sided timing belt for powering balance shafts. The teeth on the rear side of the belt, which can run in oil environments, transmit the reverse rotation direction of the crank shaft to the balance shaft. Because the belt generates less friction than a chain, it simultaneously reduces CO2 emissions. Other benefits: In comparison with spur gears, the belt saves weight and thus supports the manufacturer's efforts to reduce fuel consumption. In contrast to chains, it also ensures enhanced ride comfort because it runs more quietly.