2362. Lightweight Steel Vehicle


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P E Geck, A V Vadhavkar: 2362. Lightweight Steel Vehicle. 1997.



As the Japanese have become an automotive technology leader over the last 20 years many comparisons have been made between the US and Japanese approaches to technology development. The individualistic culture of the US has produced engineers who place a premium on being the first to develop a new invention. Whereas the group oriented culture of the Japanese has produced engineers who work in teams to bring more near term technology to market. The US side of the comparison is particularly valid when we look at our efforts in automotive weight reduction over the last several years. There have been many large scale consortium studies, some government sponsored, to develop ”Super Cars.” These are typically based on expensive, non-steel materials, which the average consumer could not hope to afford in the near future. Meanwhile, near-term approaches to a lightweight vehicle, which could provide up to 50% of the weight reduction promised by the longer term, more expensive technologies have languished on a partially complete bookshelf. In this study we are re-examining many of these near-term technologies. We have found that the reason that these technologies have not made it to widespread production is that there are missing ”bits and pieces” of enabling technologies. These were ignored in the quest to develop the ultimate breakthrough weight reduction technology.


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