Looks like DuPoint's matrix strategy for materials development will enable it to leverage a lot of intellectual property and design innovative across various core platforms as opposed to reinventing the wheel for every separate endeavor. Great example of big picture, systems engineering thinking as opposed to a one-off strategy around lightweighting.
One big trend in automobiles in the last few years has been enhanced safety. With stronger structures, and specific safety equipment such as air bags, we have become safer in the event of an accident. The downside is the weight added by all this safety equipment.
While in the 1970s I had a 1960s car that weighed only 1,400 pounds, there is nothing at that weight available now. With a heavy and very unsophiscated engine the car could get 40 MPG on the highway. Of course, it was not very safe.
So, while looking at ways to cut weight, it woulld be interesting to see if there are ways to use these new material features to enhance safety as well. I saw an artivle recently that made the comment that were going toward lighter cars, but that would probably compromise safety. Perhaps this new approach to designing materials will allow companies like DuPont to address both.
Lou, that balance between adding safety features and saving weight is top of mind for automotive engineers and the car companies in general, and for materials makers like DuPont, as well as sub-system makers like engine component companies, in particular. Chuck's slideshow yesterday shows a host of these: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=250882 Balancing all these tradeoffs requires the type of system-level thinking DuPont is using to develop new materials with its matrix structure, as Beth points out.
TJ, if you look at the pie chart, you'll see that there's an Other category that comprises 4% of responses, as well as an Aerodynamics category at 1%, one (or both) of which may have included tire improvements. Whatever improvements they add apparently weren't statistically large enough, in the context of the others, to justify a separate category, at least in the minds of these respondents. That said, as you rightly point out there are many improvements shown in Chuck's slideshow yesterday that can be done, and that fall outside the big three categories in this study.
I, too, was intrigued by the Combustion Engine Breakthrough category. The main example DuPont gave is Ford's EcoBoost engine, which we've covered before, and it's not at all fairy-dust: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1387&doc_id=234102 http://media.ford.com/images/10031/EcoBoost.pdf Then there are several slides in Chuck's slideshow yesterday that address engine improvements, such as slide 3 on Toyota's D-S4 engine, slide 6 on Chevy's Ecotec, slide 15 on Fiat's Multi-Air inline engine, slide 16 on engine active fuel management, and slides 8 and 11 on the GDI technique, which sounds to me like a real breakthrough at up to 30% consumption reduction potential.
Ann, I agree the EcoBoost engine is a breakthrough that would help move the indsutry to meet CAFE standards. I was a little surprised to see the battery research taking such a large portion of the pie chart. No matter how efficient the EV and hybrids get, they won't help car makers reach CAFE standards if sales remain such a small portion of overall vehicles sold.
TJ and Ann, it is interesting that aerodynamics is not more prominently selected. The big problem we have is the rise of the SUV. Some of you may remember the oil shocks of the 1970s. After that, a prominent feature of automobile advertising was the coefficient of drag. With the rise of the SUV, starting with the Ford Explorer, that went by the wayside. We now have crossovers. These are SUVs on a car chasis. They still have basically the same aerodynamics, which is bad. Better aerodynamics, along with weight savings, would go a long way toward meeting the standards. And those do not required major scientific breakthroughs as with batteries.
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