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Significant Weight Reduction for Minimal Cost Increase

SpecialChem / May 19, 2010

With only 3% increase in component cost, Lotus Engineering has helped reduce the vehicle mass of Toyota Venza crossover utility vehicle (CUV) by 33%, and fuel consumption by 23%. To achieve this, Lotus used a combination of stronger and lighter weight materials, a high degree of component integration, and advanced joining and assembly methodologies. The CUV is said to be feasible for production in 2020.

The revised part count of the Toyota Venza model is now reduced to 211 from 400. All key interior and exterior dimensions and volumes of the CUV were retained. The body-in-white materials used in the baseline Venza was made of 100% steel, while the new model used 37% aluminum, 30% magnesium castings, 21% composites and 7% high strength steel as an alternative. This has reduced the structure mass by 42% from 382kg to 221kg, while retaining the strength of the prototype at the same time. The wheelbase and track were increased for additional mass reduction and cost savings opportunities. In order to determine the opportunities of weight saving, the Toyota Venza was disassembled into its component parts and each part was weighed and measured. The Venza is a 4-door, 5-passenger vehicle available in all wheel drive or front wheel drive configurations with a four or six cylinder engine.

Various CUV OEMs are currently modifying the architecture and design of the vehicles, and are rapidly implementing newer powertrain and engine technologies. Their objective is to economically reduce the vehicle mass in order to better respond to regulatory actions, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and to meet consumer demands for substantial improvements in vehicle fuel economy.

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