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Sustainable Production Technologies of Emission-reduced Lightweight Car Concepts

SLC pools the expertise and resources of 38 organisations to develop new lightweight vehicle concepts up to 50% lighter than present high-volume cars. SLC will address present limitations on advanced material processing, multi-material joining technologies and simulation tools (crash, fatigue, cost and sustainability).

Tags: Road


The European Commission estimates in its White Paper, European Transport Policy for 2010: time to decide, that the demand for passenger transport in the EU will rise by 24% between 1998 and 2010, with an expansion of the car fleet by 3 million vehicles a year. This, together with the fulfilment of the EC directive on end-of-life vehicle recycling of 95% recycling rate, is a key challenge for the European transport industry if it is to enable a sustainable mobility in Europe.

As 28% of the emissions of CO2 are related to transport (of which 84% are by road transport), reduction of CO2 emissions in road transport is crucial to achieve the targets agreed in the Kyoto Protocol. Weight saving is one of the most effective ways to reduce fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions of road transport. An example for the potential environmental impact of weight saving in SLC is described in the figure below.

Addressing these challenges while maintaining a vehicle’s safety performance is crucial for the competitiveness of the European automotive industry, which employs over 12 million EU citizens. Only by maintaining the knowledge-intensity of automotive manufacturing at a maximum level can the EU avoid massive transfers of car production to lower wage regions in the world, so it is imperative to preserve and increase the high-quality employment.


Today it is possible to construct vehicles with considerable weight reductions in expensive small/medium volume series. SLC focuses on drastically reducing the weight of mass-produced vehicle structures (e.g. Golf, Astra, Megane, Punto, etc.) and addresses specific challenges such as a low acceptance rate of risk and quality variance, short production cycle times, low manufacturing costs, short time-to-market and recyclability.

SLC’s main objective is to develop the integrated knowledge and technological capabilities required to design, engineer and manufacture multi-material car bodies at mass volumes (1 000/day) with a substantial weight reduction of up to 50% of body-in-white (BIW), combined with reduced raw material consumption of up to 30%. This will compare to series vehicles at manufacturing and assembly costs that do not significantly exceed those of state-of-the-art series cars of the same class (i.e. average costs of up to €5/kg weight savings).

To overcome these challenges, knowledge and technological capabilities will be developed in three main areas:

  • concepts and design (for parts, modules and BIW)
  • forming and joining technologies (including surface quality)
  • tools and enabling technologies (design, simulation and multi-parameter optimisation tools).
Potential reduction of C02 emissions of a compact class car
Potential reduction of C02 emissions of a compact class car
Volkswagen AG

Description of work

The multi-material concepts development approach avoids any mono-material-driven design methodology. It puts the overall vehicle’s functionalities first, and then deploys them to sub-modules/parts, making the optimal material choice on a part-by-part basis based on overall vehicle performance. This is the driving force steering the research in other areas, favouring functional requirements-based competition among different materials and technologies.

In parallel to concept development, SLC will research on advanced material processing (FRP, light weight alloys, advanced steel, etc.), multi-material joining technologies (e.g. welding, brazing, adhesive bonding, mechanical joining and others), design/simulation tools needed for multi-material vehicles/parts (crash and fatigue behaviour, LCA and costing) and recycling technology applicability. Finally, the SLC front structure demonstrator will be built up, and virtually and physically tested.

SLC is structured around four technical subprojects covering the following domains:

  • vehicle design and engineering
  • forming and joining technologies
  • design, simulation tools and other enabling technologies
  • the actual development of a front-end structure demonstrator and virtual car body.

The exploitation of the research results will be supported to ensure that the first high volume series cars can be on the road in 2012.


The main result of SLC will be a virtually designed multi-material lightweight affordable car-body concept (including a front structure demonstrator for results validation) fitting in with the scenario of up to 1 000 cars/day offering 30% reduction in weight compared to the 2004 benchmark cars on the market. SLC experiences will also result in a library of multi-material architectures.

SLC will deliver forming technologies with reduced manufacturing cost and/or cycle times. Other forming technologies shaping high performance external panels (while providing A-class surface quality) and new joining technologies for cost-efficient high-volume multi-material assembly will also be delivered. The body assembling sequence will be optimised. Moreover, SLC will analyse their applicability in less stringent mid-volume vehicle classes as well as in other transport modes (including rail).

Finally, SLC will provide the tools and technologies required for multi-material concept design under industrial conditions. These will be shaped as databases and toolboxes integrated in simulation software for crash, fatigue, static, costs, LCA, and offering robust and accurate predictions for multi-material designs developed in SLC.

Through a large participation of the automotive industry and through coordination of R&D exploitation by EUCAR, the SLC results will find their way to the engineering departments and production sites.

Preliminary lightweight body concept
Preliminary lightweight body concept
SuperLIGHT-Car project