Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

CAMX 2022


sampe - North America




Vehicle light-weighting has allowed automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to improve fuel efficiency, incorporate value-adding features without a weight penalty, and extract better performance. The typical body-in-white (BiW) accounts for up to 40% of the total vehicle mass, making it the focus of light-weighting efforts through a) conceptual redesign b) design optimization using state-of-the-art computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools, and c) use of advanced high strength steels (AHSS), aluminum, magnesium, and/or fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composites. However, most of these light-weighting efforts have been focused on luxury/sports vehicles, with a relatively high price range and an average production of 100,000 units/year or less. With increasing sports utility vehicle (SUV) sales in North America, focus has shifted to developing lightweight designs for this segment. Thus, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office has initiated a multi-year research and development program to enable cost-effective light-weighting of a mid-size SUV. The proposed designs shall enable weight reduction of a minimum of 160 lb. (~72.7 kg), with a maximum allowable cost increase of $5 for every pound of weight reduced. The proposed designs shall enable vehicle production rates of 200,000 units/year and will be aimed at retaining the joining/assembly line employed by the OEM. A systems approach has been utilized to develop a multi-material, light-weight redesign of the SUV BiW that meets or exceeds the baseline structural performance. This study delves into the development of design targets for the proposed redesign at the system, sub-assembly, and component levels. Furthermore, results from topology optimization studies on a design volume were assessed to understand the load paths under various loading conditions. Several multi-material concept designs were proposed based on the insights provided by the topology optimization study. Novel multi-material joining methodologies have been incorporated to enable maximum retention of the OEM’s joining and assembly process without significantly increasing cost. This paper presents the systems approach, and results from design studies undertaken to meet the program challenges.