2473. Lightweight Vehicle Processes of the 21st Century


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Frank Carson: 2473. Lightweight Vehicle Processes of the 21st Century. 1999.



Automotive Weight Engineering processes continue to evolve to meet the emerging vehicle requirements for the 21st Century. Recent realignment of Weight Engineering into the Attribute Engineering Office improves the delivery of the Weight Attribute to Vehicle Programs. Throughout the history of the automobile, engineers have always calculated loading conditions under expected customer usage to design suspension components. Understanding the conditions of the roads and customer needs contributed to the tremendous success of the first mass-produced, car, Ford?s Model T. In 1923, Henry Ford described his philosophy about vehicle weight. ?Saving even a few pounds of a vehicle?s weight…could mean that they would also go faster and consume less fuel. Reducing weight involves reducing materials which in turn, means reducing cost as well.? A philosophy that we still embrace as we enter the second automotive century. Trucks also were a part of the early automotive industry . About 444 truck makers attempted to enter the growing automotive business in the first decade of the 20th Century. Although only a few survived, trucks added the concept of payload ? a significant element of chassis systems design. Trucks need to meet customer usage requirements in the unloaded as well as the fully loaded vehicle condition. Weight Engineering as a distinct activity at Ford sprang from the need to meet the challenging U.S. emission and fuel economy standards. The Clean Air Act of 1970 regulated tail pipe emissions and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1980 mandated increases in fuel economy. The latter was enacted as a response to the oil crisis of the 1970s ? gasoline spiked at $1.30/gallon (1979 dollars) or about $3/gallon in 1999 dollars.


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