Why do car seats weigh so much
Lightweight construction: Small cattle also weigh something
Every kilogram on the car increases fuel consumption. This is already an issue for conventional cars, even if, as is currently the case, fuel is relatively cheap in view of the low oil prices. It is even more important to look at the vehicle weight in electrically powered cars. The range of a battery charge is limited, and with every additional kilo of weight, the distance after which the scooter has to be plugged in again becomes shorter.
Lightweight construction is feasible, but the materials carbon and magnesium are very expensive. Many manufacturers therefore rely on clever alternatives to the expensive high-tech materials. In the following, we present five options that car manufacturers can use.
A standard car seat weighs a good 20 kilograms, and most cars have at least two of them. Manufacturers are trying to reduce weight and are replacing steel with plastic components. In addition, the backrests are modeled particularly thin. With its concept Synergy Seat Gen 3, the supplier Johnson Controls shows how the stalls could lose weight again: Behind this bulky name is a comparatively light seat made of natural fibers. A stable sheet metal in the backrest means that the conventional metal structure, i.e. mass, can be saved on the inside.
The fact that cars have become heavier in recent years is also due to the increasing use of electronics in vehicles. The three kilometers of cable alone push the scales up. For a few years now, manufacturers have been increasingly using aluminum instead of copper for electrical conductors. According to the supplier Delphi, the cables made of light metal weigh up to 48 percent less and are also extremely resistant to kinking.
Because of their lower conductivity, however, they require a larger cross-section than copper cables. This limits their use in the car in places where there is sufficient space available. Toyota uses aluminum, for example, for the wiring in the doors.
Lightweight construction can be beneficial not only for fuel consumption, but also for driving comfort. Audi wants to improve both with suspension springs made of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP). The coil springs developed in collaboration with a supplier are thicker than ordinary steel specimens, but have fewer coils. According to Audi, the light green GRP springs are around 40 percent lighter. The vehicle weight is reduced by 4.4 kilograms.
Around half of this benefits the unsprung masses, i.e. the wheels, brakes and suspension. A weight reduction improves driving precision here. Another advantage: the GRP springs do not rust and are also insensitive to stone chips, and their production is less energy-intensive than that of steel springs. The new GRP springs celebrated their premiere in autumn in the fuel-saving version of the Audi A6. Further models are to follow.
4. Brake pedal
Pedals made of aluminum are particularly popular in sporty cars for visual reasons. But manufacturers are also working on the pedals to save weight - many now use plastic ones. The supplier ZF, for example, offers a brake pedal made of continuous fiber-reinforced plastic that is supposed to be around 50 percent lighter than steel ones. The material is considered to be particularly strong and stiff, and it can also be easily recycled.
Components that are not on board weigh the least. Citroën is currently showing that foregoing does not have to mean a loss. The French manufacturer has simply left out a few extras in its compact crossover model C4 Cactus. In the rear there are neither window regulators nor cranks, but the vent windows that are only common in vans these days. The five-door model also saves the ventilation nozzle and air duct on the right-hand side of the dashboard, the front passenger only has the nozzle in the center console for heating and cooling. Well worth the effort: the 4.16 meter long mini SUV weighs just over 1,000 kilograms in the basic version.
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