Next-generation cars are expected to possess several features, such as connected cars, smart technology, fuel efficiency, and light weight. During the e-car hype ending 2011, one of the major focus areas was the weight of the car. However, while there is a consistent demand for integration of decreased weight in new launches, over the succeeding years, car manufacturers have been lessening the focus on integrating a decrease in weight of cars in new products. The global lightweight car market is expected to grow at a CAGR close to 4.9% during the forecast period.
Currently, the market for lightweight vehicles is primarily driven by regulatory authorities pushing for fuel efficiency. The EU has devised a roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy by 2050. Furthermore, North America is driven by the increasingly strict fuel economy standards of the US CAFE requirements, which are also being adopted by Canada and Mexico.
High pressure from automotive regulatory authorities, increased global demand, and decreasing cost of materials through strong research and innovation are some of the drivers of the global lightweight cars market. However, high costs of materials like carbon fiber, ongoing research on material mix leading to market non-readiness of this affordable material, and decreasing focus on the weight of vehicles since 2011 form the bottlenecks for this industry.
The notion of light-weighting in the auto industry is beyond the weight of cars and trucks. Since it takes less energy to accelerate a lighter object than a heavier one, one way to achieve better fuel efficiency and handling is by lessening the overall weight of the vehicle. Carmakers’ primary focus is on lessening the vehicle load and use different lightweight materials for automotive applications in making the parts, for example, carbon fiber for the chassis, plastic for windshields, and aluminum foam for bumpers, etc. The other consideration while building these lightweight cars is to not lose out on the overall safety.
The ideal materials for lightweight cars include aluminum, high-strength steel, and magnesium, which have a high strength-to-weight ratio. In the luxury segment, carbon fiber cars, like the ones produced by BMW, are no longer expensive and are increasingly being used in mass car production. The most popular material currently is "material-mix," an innovative mix of materials to enable affordability of lightweight cars. The recent Global Automotive Lightweight Materials Initiative (GALM) has boosted the research and popularity of this material mix. Another method of decreasing the weight of cars is through downsizing engines.
Source: Energy.gov / Mordor Intelligence Analysis
The weight of a car depends on its curb-weight or the mass of the vehicle, including the mass of added components like refrigeration, passengers or cargo, transmission and motor oil, etc. Explaining the relationship between the vehicle weight and fuel usage, Energy.gov mentioned that a 10% reduction in vehicle weight could result in a 6-8% fuel economy improvement.
The proliferation of lightweight cars is low but is estimated to increase as awareness and demand increases. In fact, one of the most important drivers of lightweight cars in the market is its demand concerning the ideal automobile that, according to a report, should include the components of increased efficiency, green fuel, and finally, lightweight materials under the umbrella term “smart-efficiency”. The report segments the market by region, energy source, and car type.
Major Players: BMW, Ford, Audi, Lanxess, Daimler, and Kia, amongst others.
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