A study has been carried out to evaluate the potential for weight reduction of automobiles. It is concluded that automobiles of lighter weight than those current (1976 models) in the domestic market may be built in each of three size classes, 4, 5, and 6 passenger, and that this can be done within the limits of presently prevailing designs and materials. Detailed weight breakdowns are presented for a 4-passenger vehicle of 1987 lbs. curb weight, for a 5-passenger vehicle having a curb weight of 2551 lbs., and a 6-passenger vehicle of 3271 lbs. curb weight. Since weight reduction is without significance unless product characteristics are well defined, detailed package dimensions are presented for each of the three size classes, and an improved roominess factor is proposed for the evaluation of effective roominess in cars. Other vehicle characteristics are discussed in detail and defined. It is concluded that roominess, performance, active safety, luxury options and other product qualities can be conserved in weight reduction, but super-power options and weight concessions to appearance factors are not included in weight estimates. It is also concluded that lightweight cars may be somewhat inferior to vehicles of heavier weight and equally advanced design with respect to (1) impact with other vehicles and with certain kinds of fixed obstacles, (2) aerodynamic stability, and (3) smoothness and quietness of operation. Detailed weight comparisons are presented between present and past designs of vehicles in each of the three size classes mentioned above. The weight history of three typical domestic vehicles is given in detail and analyzed for the period 1970-74, during which time the weight consequences of industry response to government regulations entered the picture. The design process is outlined and illustrated by the making of design decisions for a new design of a 5-passenger vehicle. Finally, the potential for weight reduction by material substitution is examined. Three material groups are discussed in detail - aluminum, high strength low alloy steel, and plastics - and a study is made of the weight decreases that could be achieved by use of those materials in automobile components where such use is technologically feasible.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Thayer School of Engineering

    Dartmouth Systems Dynamics Group
    Hanover, NH  United States  03755

    Transportation Systems Center

    55 Broadway, Kendall Square
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02142

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Hooven, F J
    • Kennedy, F E
  • Publication Date: 1978-8

Media Info

  • Pagination: 213 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00186160
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT-TSC-NHTSA-78-36
  • Contract Numbers: DOT-TSC-996
  • Files: NTIS, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 13 1979 12:00AM