November 4, 2003
VW R & D focuses on new lightweight construction methods
Wolfsburg, Germany – Research and Development at Volkswagen is increasingly focusing on new materials and construction methods for automotive manufacturing, says the company.
“The car of the future should not only satisfy the numerous legal regulations, but also fulfil the growing social expectations with regard to energy efficiency, fuel consumption, climate protection, safety and comfort. A particular technological challenge is the reduction of fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions,” said a company news release.
Examples of recent lightweight, fuel-efficient VW vehicles include the three-litre Lupo, launched in 1999, and the one-litre car concept launched in 2002 which used aluminium, magnesium or carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics (CFP) in conjunction with new methods of construction.
The new Golf features a gearbox housing made from magnesium that weighs around 25 percent less than the already light aluminium model. The VW Group is already working intensively on using magnesium alloys in the engine block. Steel can also be integrated into lightweight construction concepts. For instance, very-high-strength grade hot formed steels have been used for the B-pillars in the new Golf. Furthermore, joining techniques like laser welding are being developed.
Weight reduction at an acceptable price cannot be achieved with new materials alone, says the company. In conceptual lightweight construction, Volkswagen has decided upon a combination of construction methods, choice of materials and manufacturing methods. Within the VW Group diverse technology is available, such as the use of die-quenched parts, the joining of stainless steels and cast alloy and also innovative materials like high-performance plastics or aluminium and magnesium alloys.