Cadillac engineers augmented the optimized structural load path with materials that further reduced weight. They employed high-strength steel, which offers yield and tensile strengths about four times higher than those of conventional steels. They also used ultra-high-strength steel, which is about four times stronger than high-strength steel. Those materials allowed strategic structural members to be made from thinner gauges.
To further reduce vehicle mass, the engineering team also employed an aluminum hood, aluminum shock towers, an aluminum engine cradle, an aluminum instrument panel beam, and magnesium engine brackets.
Cadillac's 3,400lb ATS will mark the automaker's debut in the compact luxury market.
The new car's powertrain and suspension also make extensive use of aluminum. Its cylinder block, cylinder heads, and pistons are made of lightweight cast aluminum. The intake manifold saves about 5.5 pounds, and the exhaust manifold saves about 13 pounds through the use of aluminum. And the engine's connecting rods are made from a powder metal that incorporates a high ratio of copper, thus further cutting weight.
The ATS five-year design effort is notable, not only for its intelligent structural design, but also for Cadillac's ongoing commitment to costly engineering processes while GM struggled with its finances. During that period, Cadillac engineers benchmarked competitors' vehicles, such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4. They ran clinics in China, Germany, the US, and Great Britain. They visited and rode with owners of those vehicles and learned about the advantages and disadvantages of each. Finally, they built multiple ATS mules to analyze the performance of sub-systems, such as the suspension, and tested them on race tracks.
Cadillac's approach to cutting weight out of its vehicles reminds me of the diet plan, Weight Watchers, which advocates a slow and methodical approach to weight loss unlike some other plans that look for bigger, more immediate results. I think Cadillac's commitment to cutting mass in the ATS by reexamining every facet of the design, down to the fastener level, can't help but be the more effective way to ensure a lighter, yet still highly stable and high performance vehicle. Chuck, obviously new material choices and close attention to customer requirements played key roles in its redesign effort, but what about use of CAE software? I'm assuming that FEA played a key role in the weight reduction redesign operation.
Could our view of distant galaxies be obstructed by a lawnmower? That unlikely question is at the heart of a growing debate between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and a robot manufacturer that seeks to build self-guided lawnmowers.
Design News readers spoke loudly and clearly after our recent news story about a resurgence in manufacturing -- and manufacturing jobs. Commenters doubted the manufacturers, describing them as H-1B visa promoters, corporate crybabies, and clowns. They argued that US manufacturers aren’t willing to train workers, preferring instead to import cheap labor from abroad.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.