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Affordable weight reduction of high-volume vehicles and components taking into account the entire life-cycle
Date de clôture : 21 janv. 2016  

 Technologie bas carbone
 Économie sobre en carbone
 Efficacité énergétique
 Protection environnementale
 Industrie automobile
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

One of the principal levers to improve the energy efficiency, performance and range of vehicles, and reduce their impact on the environment, is to decrease their weight. This is particularly important for conventionally-powered vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions but also for EVs in which the relatively limited range and high costs, linked to the still comparatively low production volumes, remain critical factors that determine their competitiveness.

Previously-conducted EU research projects have already demonstrated the fact that the adoption of advanced grades of steel, metal alloys, aluminium, novel plastics and biomaterials, novel high-strength light-weight ceramics and composites can lead to a drastic reduction in the weight of a wide range of vehicle components. However the outcome of these activities is also that the additional cost for each kilogram saved is still too high to represent a revolutionary approach enabling intensive use of such lightweight materials particularly in vehicles intended for mass-production.

Correspondingly it is necessary to address this issue directly and urgently in order to identify solutions for the significant weight reduction of vehicles, and in particular electrified cars, which are cost-effective and viable with respect to the intended production volumes and from the entire life-cycle perspective, improving performance without compromising crashworthiness and durability. Specifically the principal focus should be on large production volumes exploiting economies of scale, targeting production volumes of at least 50000 units per annum, while investigating also the opportunity for developing common solutions across different types of vehicle.


The principal focus should be on large production volumes exploiting economies of scale, targeting production volumes of at least 50000 units per annum, while investigating also the opportunity for developing common solutions across different types of vehicle.

A holistic, integrated and cost-driven approach should be pursued in order to optimize the use of lightweight materials solutions in all vehicle structures, subsystems and components (with the exception of concepts for stand-alone powertrains), considering the entire value chain from a life-cycle perspective: materials, tools, process, assembly and end-of-life.

Materials engineering should address the development of new low density/high strength and highly formable materials (e.g. steels, alloys, aluminium, castings, polymers, biomaterials, ceramics and reinforcements) and their combination (e.g. composites, sandwiches, high strength foams) at affordable prices starting from less expensive sources, also via recycling and/or processes which are less energy-demanding. Furthermore, materials engineering should address corrosion, thermal expansion, joining (e.g. bonding, riveting, friction-stir based technologies, etc.) and recycling issues of multi-material designs, one essential prerequisite being the widespread availability and minimal CO2 footprint of the candidate materials.

Manufacturing engineering should address both the need to use less energy-intensive and more sustainable technologies, and the opportunity to speed-up and improve the efficiency of lightweight part production also through the combination of different manufacture steps, moving towards new approaches specific for new materials, including cost-effective multi-material joining technologies as well as the formability of tailored blanks material hybrid parts, and considering also effective multi-material surface treatments.

Design should pursue approaches based on both “right material for the right application” and “multi-functional optimization” in order to exploit the lightweight materials properties, optimizing their use through functional integration of multi-material solutions, including design for recycling. In view to further reduce the environmental footprint of the vehicles, the use of recycled high added-value materials should be considered.

Virtual engineering should support the multi-functional design for the optimization of performance (including crashworthiness, durability, etc.), developing and applying methods and tools to enable the efficient and effective simulation of multi-functional, multi-material solutions as well as of sustainable manufacturing technologies in order to minimize material use and energy consumption. Importantly Life Cycle Analysis (LCA should support the entire design and development process.

The activities are required to identify solutions for the weight reduction of vehicles, including, but not limited to, electrified cars which, through a comprehensive analysis, should be demonstrated to be both viable, in terms of cost and production, and sustainable from the life-cycle perspective.

The solutions must be validated at the application level, with full verification of the virtual engineering approach, to demonstrate improved performance without any compromise in terms of crashworthiness and durability. An assessment of the applicability of the solutions developed across different vehicle types is also expected.

This topic is a NMBP contribution to the European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI) and was developed in close collaboration with EGVI. It complements the EGVI activities in the Work Programme part of the Societal Challenge “Smart, green and integrated transport”.

The implementation of this topic is intended to start at TRL 4 and target TRL 6.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Specific targets that should be achieved in short- to medium-term (within a time frame of about 6 years following the completion of the project) include:

  • 10 % reduction in energy consumption of vehicle due to weight reduction (with corresponding impact in terms of CO2 emissions depending on the vehicle type);
  • Cost-effective weight savings depending on intended production volumes, eg.:
    • For 50000 units per annum: at least 6 €/kg-saved;
    • For 100000+ units per annum: at least 3 €/kg-saved;
  • At least 6% improvement in LCA environmental impact ("from cradle to grave") in terms of GWP (Global Warming Potential).

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.

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