Honsel in the “Light Car - Open Source”:
Aluminum components make the electric car lighter and safer
Honsel is involved in the development and building of the electrically-powered concept vehicle “Light Car - Open Source”. The engineering service provider EDAG has built the car together with partner companies in the supplier industry and is presenting it at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010. Light aluminum structural components from Honsel in the chassis and bodywork reduce the electric car’s weight. They weigh around 40 percent less than comparable components in steel.
For the “Light Car – Open Source”, Honsel is supplying among other things parts of the spaceframe, all chassis and suspension parts and the front crash structure. These components consist of light aluminum extrusion profiles. The subframes and front and rear suspension arms, for example, are in cast aluminium, as are the connecting links for the extrusion profiles and the B- and C-pillars.
Especially for electric vehicles like the “Light Car - Open Source”, light engineering is decisive: to compensate for the high extra weight of the batteries, the vehicle structure needs to be extremely light. But weightsaving aluminum and magnesium components also offer significant advantages for conventional cars. The reason is the planned high penalty tax for cars that consume too much fuel and CO2. “With our innovative light engineering solutions we offer the right answer to the challenge facing the automotive industry of making vehicles ever more economical and clean. 100 kilograms less vehicle weight means up to 25 grams less CO2 emissions,” says Dr. Heinrich Fuchs, Head of Materials and Process Development at Honsel. Installed at the right places in the car, light metals can also achieve the same crash safety as steel components, so they offer two advantages at the same time.
Since development of the “Light Car - Open Source” began, experts from Honsel have been working closely together with the specialists of the partner companies involved. Honsel, for example, has supported the engineering of the aluminum components and taken over the castingspecific design. It took only three months from the first drafts to the finished components. “With our extensive know-how in rapid-prototyping, we were able to realise the project in the shortest of times. Despite the fact that the “Light Car - Open Source” is a concept car, all components were optimised to the high standards for weight, strength and crash performance in large series production,” says Dr. Fuchs. The B-pillar of especially thin-walled cast aluminum, for instance, has a load-bearing function for the bodywork, effectively protects the passengers in the event of a side impact and is also extremely light.
Honsel has already developed the casting methods needed to cast components such as the B-pillar in aluminum also in series production or is almost ready to put them into series production. Experts estimate that 50 percent more light metal components than today can be used in the suspension and vehicle structure in the medium term. In this context, the right materials mix of steel, light metals and possibly fibre-reinforced plastics is crucial. “The right material at the right place, that will be the engineering concept for the light, economical and clean vehicles of the future,” predicts Dr. Fuchs.
Spaceframe bodywork structures in light metal from Honsel are already successfully in series production today. A spaceframe is a frame of hollow aluminum profiles linked at their connecting points by cast components. In the chassis area, the rear axle support from Honsel in cast aluminum for the Volvo XC 90 now weighs in at only 23.5 kilograms – it saves around a third of the original weight. And the engine support of the Peugeot 407 as an aluminum structural component weighs a mere 15.5 kilograms.