Nowadays, there is an urgent need for increasing fuel/energy efficiency in both conventional and electric vehicles. To date, lightweighting initiatives have resulted in several innovative solutions based on steel, aluminium, composites and hybrid materials. However, the majority of efforts have failed to reach widespread adoption due to the high costs, indicated by the cost of lightweighting (∆cost/∆weight). The high cost is a result of several factors, including the cost of materials (e.g. carbon fibre reinforced plastics), long cycle times, investments in new machinery.
Effective and affordable lightweighting requires a holistic approach; it requires processing large amounts of information (performance, manufacturability, cost, environmental). Carmaker designers/ engineers need to evaluate these criteria in a multi-parameter optimisation. The high complexity of this optimisation makes lightweighting one of the most challenging tasks of modern automotive designers and engineers. Overall, the cost of lightweighting has been identified as the major bottleneck towards the implementation of lightweight materials in vehicle mass production.
In ALLIANCE, six European carmakers (DAIMLER, VW, TME, CRF, VOLVO and OPEL) four suppliers and eight knowledge partners have joined forces to commonly deal with the high cost of innovations in vehicle lightweighting.
The main objectives of the ALLIANCE project are to enable reduction of energy consumption by 10% and GWP by 6%, compared to a conventional vehicle.
The main objective of the ALLIANCE project is to develop novel advanced materials with superior performance, lower cost and low embedded footprint, aiming at market application by 2025. These novel materials include: high-strength steel alloys (Quenching & Partitioning), new aluminium grades and glass-fibre reinforced plastic composite materials, and innovative hybrid/sandwich materials.
ALLIANCE will develop a mass optimiser software tool and a multi-parameter design optimisation methodology to accelerate pre-assessment of technologies over existing designs. In addition, ALLIANCE proposes three innovative manufacturing technologies to develop up to TRL6. These technologies include: production sequence for Tailored Extruded Aluminium Blanks with variable thickness, simultaneous forming of Metal and FRP hybrids, one-step process combining injection moulding with Water injection (WIT) for the creation of braided, thermoplastic, GF-reinforced hollow parts in high volumes.
ALLIANCE will work on eight different demonstrators of real vehicle models, six of which will be physically tested, aiming at market application by OEMs within six years from project end (in 2025). During the project, the optimised modules will be implemented into a virtual full-vehicle model.
ALLIANCE has the ambition to become a central hub for innovation in lightweight design in Europe. To do so, it will establish an open inclusive framework towards external centres and clusters in this field, involving them in the project through an Open Lightweight Design Contest and dedicated workshops.