Weight reduction is a huge consideration for all automakers today. Governmental regulations are requiring cars to be increasingly more fuel-efficient, and lowering the weight of cars wherever possible is an economical way to ensure that fuel efficiency guidelines are easy to pass.
Much of this weight reduction is made by simple changes in metalwork. For example aluminum over steel, lighter hollower car chassis, and components made out of lightweight metals and materials. Smaller engines are also becoming commonplace, often turbocharged to make up for their lower capacity.
One place that automakers haven’t had much luck in the past is indoor modules. Door modules control a huge number of functions of the door and integrate the Door Control System which controls locks, power windows, defrosting of side mirrors, mirror folding, mirror turn signal lamps, and many other functions.
All of these features are controlled mechanically, which means a hefty door, no matter what materials are used for the body.
However, a team from Magna International has announced a next-generation door module that could totally change existing weight reduction programs by reducing mass by up to 42.5% in light vehicles.
The Ultralight Door Module
The door module itself was developed by Magna in under ten months, combining technical expertise, unique material selection, and an innovative design strategy to create a truly spectacular, lightweight result. All within standard industry cost parameters.
This door could apply to as many as 70% of the current light vehicle market. The primary innovation of the project was the Magna’s SmartLatch™ electronic latching system, which eliminated the need for a mechanical carrier module. This, in turn, allowed for a smaller, lightweight window system integrating glass guides and a lightweight, hybrid glass laminate material.
Also, the door is built primarily out of extremely lightweight materials. Aluminum is responsible for about half of the total weight reduction of the door and door module.
Further weight was reduced by consulting with Grupo Antolin, interior design specialists who managed to implement advanced molding techniques, polymers, and other weight reduction methods to decrease the burden of the interior sections of the door module. This contributed to a total weight reduction of over 7%.
What This Means For The Future
The door module simulation itself passed all relevant safety and durability tests. The next step for the company is to begin mass-manufacturing of prototype door modules and to start testing the performance and security of these modules in person. Beginning with a goal of full-scale production for vehicles by the third quarter of 2020.
This innovative door module is very appealing, especially for those in the light vehicle market. Every pound saved counts for maximum weight reduction, fuel efficiency, performance, and the innovative design showed off by Magna is sure to raise eyebrows among the automotive community.
And though we have yet to see its full effects on the industry, it’s certain that more companies will follow suit in attempting to develop lightweight door modules to decrease the weight of their cars.
The future of all automakers is fuel efficiency. This is demanded not just by governments, but by the increasing scarcity of oil and the advancement of alternative energy sources.