Less weight = lower fuel consumption – and so fewer pollutants. When developers at Continental are working on new components such as engine mounts, hose lines or surfaces for car interiors, they always have this equation at the back of their mind. Lightweight design is a key technology and the response to numerous challenges in automotive technology.
Trailblazer for efficient driving
Standards for the efficiency of vehicles are constantly rising. Against the backdrop of stricter emission limits and standards prescribed by law, economical, environmentally friendly driving is becoming increasingly important – both for cars and commercial vehicles. Weight-reduced components are making an important contribution to achieving this objective. A 100-kilogram reduction in weight reduces the fuel consumption of a car by around 0.5 liters per 100 kilometers. CO2 emissions will fall as a result. At the same time, the weight saving is reflected in additional useful load. For the transport industry that is always under high cost pressure in particular, this is a decisive argument. Crucial for electric vehicles: Every kilogram less increases the range – and thereby acceptance amongst car drivers. The automotive industry is therefore a key driver of innovations in lightweight design.
Plastic replaces steel and aluminum
As a development partner to the industry, Continental is constantly working on new solutions to make vehicle components even lighter. In order to reduce the weight of components, the experts frequently use plastic as an alternative to steel and aluminum. Three examples: Glass fiber-reinforced plastic enables weight-reduced plastic pistons to be used in air spring systems of commercial vehicles. Transmission crossbeams made from polyamide are up to 50 percent lighter than variants made from die-cast aluminum. And hose lines made from rubber and polyamide for turbochargers weigh up to 15 percent less than steel tubing. For this systematic weight reduction, many products from Continental are honored with technology awards again and again.
Performance, environmental awareness and comfort in harmony
But, apart from the lower fuel consumption, do drivers notice that more and more plastic is finding its way into their cars? Let’s take engine mounting systems as an example: Thanks to the optimally matched engine mounting system – no. Admittedly, lighter vehicles with consumption-optimized engines tend to produce more vibrations. However, with the simulation methods developed by Continental, the vehicle, elastomer components and structural components are perfectly coordinated so that ride quality does not suffer as a result of fuel efficiency.
More on the topic of lightweight design