Like many research and development projects, the Multi Material Lightweight Vehicle (MMLV) Program conducted by Magna International, Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Ford Motor Company, Detroit, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), started with a “What if?” question: What if, in order reduce vehicle weight, we did a comprehensive redesign of the complete vehicle instead of focusing only on a single component or vehicle subsystem?
It turns out, a 23.5% weight reduction in a 2013 Ford Fusion can be achieved, leading to the ability to downsize the engine and improve fuel economy, leading to a 16% reduction in Global Warming Potential and 16% reduction in Total Primary Energy.
“Until you have the opportunity to design a vehicle from the ground up, you don’t really know what’s possible,” said Tim Skszek, senior manager, government partnerships and principle investigator, MMLV project, Magna International.
Magna International is an automotive supplier with 319 manufacturing facilities, including five aluminum vacuum diecasting plants. Magna has worked with its customers on achieving weight savings for specific parts and vehicle subsystems, but the supplier was curious how far weight could be reduced if given the chance to apply weight-saving principles across the entire vehicle. Based on this curiosity, it applied to lead a U.S. DOE-sponsored research program to lightweight a current model production vehicle and invited Ford to be a 50/50 partner.