Lightweighting struggles will continue to weigh on the industry in the absence of new materials. Christie Schweinsberg reports.

How to get weight out of vehicles that already have been made significantly lighter is a conundrum facing suppliers and automakers alike.

Unfortunately, there is no silver-bullet solution that will make the process easier going forward, say panellists at a Society of Automotive Analysts Lightweighting Summit here.

“It’s unlikely there are any breakthrough materials awaiting discovery,” says Abey Abraham, director-Ducker Worldwide at the conference.

In the face of increasingly stringent global fuel economy and emissions regulations, including in the US where a 54.5-mpg (4.3 L/100 km) fleet fuel-economy bogey is set for 2025, suppliers and automakers already have been able to remove tens – in some cases, hundreds of pounds of mass when creating new vehicles. One or more alternatives to traditional grades of steel – aluminium, magnesium, carbon fibre, and most commonly ultra-high-strength steel – make up a growing percentage of the bodies of most new cars and light trucks in the US. This article first appeared in WardsAuto.

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