1143. Charger XL – A Lightweight Materials Development Vehicle


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D G Adams: 1143. Charger XL – A Lightweight Materials Development Vehicle. 1976.



Vehicle weight reduction is a prime factor for improved fuel economy. The obvious method of achieving substantial vehicle weight reduction is size reduction. This approach is actively being pursued by the domestic automotive industry. The domestic small car market has grown from 15% to 26% in the past five years. The trends for the future indicate a continued improved market share for small cars, but there are concerns that a saturation point will be achieved. This concern is based on the continued expressed desire of the public for a six passenger, family size vehicle. How can substantial reductions in vehicle weight at reasonable cost be made in larger as well as smaller size vehicles? That is the subject of this paper and the purpose for the construction of the developmental vehicle, Charger XL.
Substantial development programs in the steel, aluminum, and plastic industries have resulted in new high strength-to-weight ratio materials that can be incorporated into the design and manufacturing practices of the automotive industry. To fully obtain the weight savings potential of these new materials, their application to automobiles must be economically feasible. To ascertain economic feasibility requires that vehicle cost and weight interactions be understood, and to understand cost and weight interactions, it is necessary to first understand interactions between total vehicle weight and component weight. In a previous work (1)* the concept of vehicle interacting weight reduction was developed and presented from a theoretical standpoint. This concept will be reviewed in the current work, and extended to include an experimental application of the theory: Charger XL.
The substantial development efforts made by the steel and aluminum industries have resulted in high strength-to-weight ratio materials that can be employed to achieve significant vehicle weight reduction. This total vehicle weight reduction is the sum of the initial weight savings attributable to lightweight material substitution and the iterative weight savings resulting from component weight interactions. The theoretical concept of vehicle interactive weight reduction was presented in a previous work.
The present work reviews this theoretical concept and presents an experimental application: Charger XL, a lightweight materials development vehicle. Charger XL is 630 lb. (286 kg) lighter than its current, standard production counterpart. Lightweight materials substitution accounts for 375 lb (171 kg) while the interacting savings accounts for the remaining 255 lb (1 15 kg). In addition to a review of the theoretical weight reduction analysis, the current work includes a review of Charger XL materials, the details of the resulting weight savings, and a discussion of potential energy savings.


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