In the tradition of the Hollywood weight loss diet, Mazda has revealed how it plans to chop as much as 220 pounds off its new cars.
Considering the fact that cars in general have been getting heavier due to increased safety features and higher feature specs, only a few automakers have managed to reverse the trend in their own cars.
Take the upcoming 2011 Mazda2. In developing the current generation, Mazda engineers managed to shave 220 pounds from the curb weight of the previous model.
According to Mazda, 60% of the savings were made due to engineering, 20% by adjusting the features and another 20% by shrinking its dimensions. Some of the adjustments included the use of high and ultra-high tensile steels for lighter (and stronger) body and joint reinforcements, eliminating the underfloor catalyst, and changing the door-mounted speaker magnets to lighter neodymium types.
By using these same principles, Mazda plans to reduce all its vehicle weights by at least 220 pounds beginning in 2011.
The information comes from Robert Davis, Mazda’s senior vice president of product development and quality for its North American operations. Davis explained that reducing a vehicle's curb weight by 220 pounds will improve fuel economy by 3 to 5%. It also reduces the load on the brakes and suspension hardware.
The biggest hurdle remains costs. Using lighter materials, such as aluminum or high-strength steel, is more expensive than traditional steel and advanced structures also take longer to engineers--factors that are ever important in the 'affordable' end of the new car market.
[Automotive News, sub req’d]