One of the biggest concerns in the automotive industry is controlling vehicular pollution. The industry is facing increasingly stringent environmental laws and heavy penalties. As norms get stricter about pollution standards, most of the R&D is focused on this aspect. The most popular solution is to reduce the weight of the vehicle. A lighter vehicle needs less power to move and this means less fuel consumption. Even a 10% reduction is weight can boost a car mileage by 6%-8%.
So, the important question is, how we can reduce this weight? The obvious answer is to look for lighter parts and body. Components like the chassis and powertrain along with the exterior body make up most of the car’s weight. So, we start by making these lighter. This is where automobile parts India come in. Research is focused on finding lighter materials in plastic and metal.
The use of lightweight material is the easiest and most effective means of reducing the overall weight of the car. Other solutions include removing certain features, resizing parts and material, and optimising designs. The focus has moved to developing advanced steels, thermoplastics, light alloys, composites, and fibre-reinforced polymers in making car components. These lighter than other more traditionally used materials.
There are some factors we have to consider when looking for automotive parts. We need parts that are low on energy consumption but have the structural integrity, stiffness, formability and surface quality. At the same time, the material has to be cost effective enough for large scale use without shooting up the bills.
The need for lighter components
Lighter vehicle: Lighter components from automobile parts India are now being developed for sensitive and critical components like the frame and seats. Really lightweight materials like thermoplastics and foams are used here to ensure that the component’s weight is the lowest possible without harming the structural integrity. The use of materials like this ensures that the overall weight is also kept low.
Better mileage: A light vehicle uses less fuel. This is because we need less power to move the vehicle from inertia. As explained above, even a small reduction can give us a significant reduction in fuel consumption, which means better mileage.
Less pollution: This is directly related to fuel consumption. Less fuel consumption means less stress on the availability of precious fuel. This is one of the major necessities of developing products that consume less natural resources. Vehicles using lightweight materials also consume less energy and have better emission control — two other necessary components in reducing pollution.
While we understand the need for lightweight material, what are the challenges faced by automobile parts India in developing the products? When developing any automotive products, there are a few factors that become essential:
Maintaining structural integrity: Any vehicle part that we develop has to have the ability to withstand a lot of abuse. These are parts that are often under heavy strain. When developing parts for the engine or chassis we have to factor in the heavy thermal pressure that can easily melt, bend or crack the components. We have to ensure that every part maintains its structural integrity even when subjected to high heat and pressure.
Formability: The automotive industry is highly specialised. The parts have to be extremely precisely machined. This is important for the overall structure, functioning and safety of the vehicle. The metal we develop has to ductile and malleable enough to be machined in any shape we want. Similarly, composites, thermoplastics and fibre-reinforced polymers have to be equally good at being shaped. We use moulding, casting and CNC machines for this purpose.
Surface quality: Aesthetics are important when designing cars. While this is not a criteria for internal parts, it is critical when it comes to developing exterior body parts, such as the car body, seats or dashboard. For instance, the car seats framing needs sculpted panels, foams, and a frame that not only looks good, but is also stiff and sturdy enough to bear the desired weight.
While these are the challenges faced in developing the parts, the automobile parts India industry also needs a bigger push in this direction. To stay competitive, this will become more and more critical.