Automakers Consider Lightweight Automotive Body Panels for Modern Offerings

Automotive body panels including roofs, doors, lids, and bumpers consist of the significant weight of the vehicles. While automotive body panels were conventionally made up of steel and iron, the increasing emphasis given to weight reduction in an attempt to achieve fuel and performance efficiency has resulted in the development of lightweight automotive body panels. Material innovations have a major role to play when it comes to the development of the lightweight automotive body panels. Novel automotive composites are being introduced for automakers focusing on improving the capabilities of their modern vehicles.

The demand for lightweight automotive body panels is likely to grow predominantly owing to the increasing deployment of electric vehicles which require the incorporation of lightweight automotive body panels for achieving efficiency. These robust industry trends are likely to propel the growth of the lightweight automotive body panels market in the forthcoming years.

Research Initiatives Uncover New Possibilities

As the global demand for lightweight automotive body panels continues to paint a positive picture, several initiatives are undertaken to improve the capabilities. As automotive manufacturers continue to strive to meet their carbon emission and fuel economy targets, lightweight automotive body panels are gaining major significance. There are a large number of projects exploring the capabilities of materials that can contribute to the lightweighting push which include automotive composites.

Clemson University Composites Center, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, and Honda R&D Americas together, are working on a new project to address how composites can minimize the automotive load-bearing structures. This project is conducted along with the support gained from the University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials and funding from the US Department of Energy. The goal of the project conducted by the research team was to build a lightweight, carbon fiber-reinforced, and 100 percent thermoplastic composite door.

Carbon-fiber & Aluminum: Combined Capabilities to Create Lightweight Structures

As companies worldwide are constantly discovering new ways to deliver lightweight automotive body panels, players serving the market are focusing on bringing innovative offerings to stay ahead of competitors.

For instance, Gordon Murray Design recently introduced the iStream Superlight automotive body-in-white (BIW) structure that combines the high-level strength of the aluminum frame with carbon fiber composite panels. With this design, the company aims to bring construction and technology derived from Formula One to the mainstream automobile production. Gordon’s new lightweight structure delivers nearly 50% weight reduction compared to the standard stamped-metal body and provides added safety, improved handling, reduced emission, and improved durability.

Growing Demand to Boost Material Production

The increasing demand for lightweight automotive body panels has resulted in the increasing demand for materials utilized in the production of these panels.

For instance, Yanfeng and Woodbridge recently announced a joint venture—Yanfeng Woodbridge Lightweight Composites Co., Ltd., which reinforces both the companies as leading automotive suppliers in the production and sale of particle foam. The primary focus of the partnership remains on the manufacturing of beam foam and expanded polypropylene products for the automotive product applications such as luggage compartments, automotive seat structures, door panels, steering wheels, bumpers, automotive packaging and dunnage, and others.

More such market details are compiled in the extensive lightweight automotive body panels market evaluation study, which could provide readers with valuable insights. For exclusive insights and statistical findings, readers can download the sample of the study.