Cadillac will make its debut in the compact luxury market segment this year, thanks to a massive engineering effort that has resulted in a lightweight, high-strength body structure.
The structure makes liberal use of aluminum, magnesium, high-strength steel, and ultra-high-strength steel. It played a key role in bringing the new ATS sedan in at a curb weight 500 pounds lighter than that of its closest predecessor, the Cadillac CTS.
"We counted mass on all of our structural members in terms of grams," David Masch, vehicle chief engineer of Cadillac, told us. "We even ended up debating the size of fasteners."
The ATS body structure employs a combination of aluminum, magnesium,
high-strength steel, and ultra-high-strength steel.
(Source: Design News)
Cadillac's design effort called on teams of structural engineers, chassis engineers, materials specialists, and mathematicians to create a body structure that would manage loads intelligently. By positioning structural members to be in shear, rather than in bending, the designers made cross-sectional areas of virtually all members smaller. "Putting members in shear is the most efficient way to manage loads," Masch said. "The more you can get those structural members in line with the loads, the more efficient you can make them."
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.
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