Daimler and Toray enter lightweight construction partnership
Stuttgart / Tokyo
Apr 28, 2010
  • Daimler AG and Toray Industries, Inc. (Japan) sign Joint Development Agreement
  • Joint development of components made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP)
  • First results to be seen in series production at Mercedes-Benz within next three years
Daimler AG and Toray Industries, Inc. have signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) which will see the companies working together to develop components made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for series production vehicles. This agreement underlines the companies' firm commitment to the use of future-oriented lightweight materials in the automobile.
Commenting on the agreement, Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Development for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: "We are working systematically to make our vehicles even cleaner and more economical. Intelligent lightweight construction has a major role to play here. With its specialist know-how in the fields of carbon-fibre and CFRP Toray is a strong international partner for our initiatives. This is a major step, as the importance of these materials is set to increase significantly in the future."
As the world's largest manufacturer of carbon fibres with a very wide product range and the largest portfolio of CFRP patents in the industry, Japanese chemical company Toray has many years of experience in the fields of materials and production processes. Daimler uses lightweight materials intelligently throughout its vehicles in order to reduce their gross weight, lower their fuel consumption and so decrease CO2 emissions. The company brings to the Joint Development Agreement its process expertise in large-scale series production and quality assurance in the automotive sector.
Professor Bharat Balasubramanian, Head of Product Innovations and Process Technologies at Daimler, explains the lightweight construction strategy: "We have a clearly defined objective to reduce the bod-in-white weight by up to ten percent compared with the respective predecessor model. In this way, we can more than offset the weight gain associated with additional safety and comfort features as well as the new components used in alternative drive systems. Weight reduction is particularly important to us because of the role it plays in our efforts to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Furthermore, our engineers in Stuttgart work in accordance with a sophisticated materials concept: 'the right material in the right place' is the principle which Mercedes-Benz uses to ensure that lightweight materials, such as aluminium, magnesium and plastics are always used in precisely those areas where they offer the greatest benefits."
"Lighter vehicles help us to uphold the high standard of sustainability which we set for our products. With BlueEFFICIENCY – our measures for sustainable mobility – we are leveraging every aspect: from environmentally responsible and economical drive systems to sophisticated aerodynamics and integrated energy management to intelligent, lightweight construction", comments Dr Thomas Weber.
Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in the use of carbon-fibre composite materials in the field of automotive engineering. Materials of this type made their series production debut in the SLR McLaren high-performance sports car as early as 2004, the entire body and front structure being manufactured from them. A primary structure made from carbon fibre is up to 30 percent lighter than comparable aluminium structures yet offers vastly greater rigidity.
The first results of the cooperation within the context of the Joint Development Agreement will be adopted in series production at Mercedes-Benz over the next three years. Starting with CFRP, moving on to individual modular components and finally creating highly integrated structural assemblies, the partners will work together on developing components for use in series production of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The know-how necessary to achieve this will undergo further development in Germany.
 
Background information:
Carbon fibres are very thin fibres, known as filaments, made of pure carbon. Woven together and embedded in resin, they form carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP). This material has a long and successful track record in the aerospace industry and in Formula 1. Offering equivalent strength, components made from carbon fibre weigh up to 50 percent less than comparable steel components and are also some 30 percent lighter than aluminium components. These qualities make CFRP the lightweight material of choice for high-performance cars: lower weight not only means lower fuel consumption but also enhances the power-to-weight ratio. The lower the mass to be accelerated, the greater the agility.
The weight of a car accounts for some 23 percent of its fuel consumption in urban driving. If the development team is able to make a weight saving of 100 kilograms when designing a new car, between 0.3 and 0.6 of a litre of fuel can be saved per 100 km of urban driving, depending on the vehicle model and driving style. This corresponds to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 7.5 to 12.5 g/km.
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