Next generation cars are expected to possess several features. Of these, connected cars, smart technology, fuel efficiency and lightweight are foremost. 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 focus on integrating a decrease in weight of cars in new products. The global market for lightweight cars is estimated to be worth USD XX billion in 2014 and is expected to increase to USD XX billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 5.8%. Currently, the market for lightweight vehicles is largely driven by regulatory authorities pushing for fuel efficiency. The EU has devised a roadmap 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 concentrated 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 weight of vehicles since 2011 form the bottlenecks for this industry.
The ideal materials for lightweight cars in this market include aluminium, high strength steel and magnesium. 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.
The weight of a car depends on its curb-weight or the mass of a vehicle including the mass of added components like refrigeration, passengers or cargo, transmission and motor oil, etc. The proliferation of lightweight cars is low because of a number of reasons but is estimated to increase as awareness and demand for it increases. In fact, one of the most important drivers of lightweight cars in the market is its demand in terms of 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. Some of companies mentioned in the report working towards manufacturing and commercialization of such cars are:
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