Both Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are to make use of a £38.2 million government fund to cut down the structural weight of their vehicles.
Structural weight accounts for 15-20% of a vehicle’s gross weight, but the overall aim is for the manufacturers to cut up to 60 per cent from their fleet overall.
The two manufacturers will receive £1.7m to research ‘light-join’ technology: a technique found in both Formula One cars and space satellites. It’s hoped this will enable the creation of cars that are lighter and more efficient.
Cars like the Nissan Leaf could potentially lose more than half their weight through use of the new techniques, resulting in their maximum distance being extended to more than 200 miles from the current maximum of 155.
Both manufacturers are already part of a consortium that uses components made from composites, which can reduce weight when used strategically in the right areas of the vehicle.
Light-join technology could enable weight reductions of around 30 per cent when compared to an all-aluminium alloy structure and 60 per cent when compared to an all-steel structure.
A spokesman for JLR noted their intention is to use the technology in all their vehicles if testing proves successful, rather than just on their hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) lines. Working prototypes are expected to be finished by 2018, with the techniques reaching passenger cars by 2020.
Nissan’s Intelligent Driving System (IDS) concept has an estimated range of 340 miles and it’s already been hinted that it’ll be used in the next-generation Leaf, a vehicle that could well also benefit from the weight-saving techniques.
The light-join consortium also includes a number of other companies: Gestamp, Stadco, Scott Bader, Granta Design, TWI, Far UK and WMG.
A range of different tests will be carried out on vehicles using the new technology, including safety checks, crash simulations and measurement of engine noise and vibration.
JLR also highlighted the potential value that light-join could offer regarding EU fleet average CO2 emissions.
Their spokesman said: “Light-join is the latest example of our approach. In other programmes we’re optimising the internal combustion engine, producing advanced hybrid and battery-electric propulsion systems, and introducing more new, lightweight materials.”
“We are on a very positive trajectory to reduce vehicle emissions and improve fuel economy through more efficient and downsized engines and alternative powertrains, lighter vehicles and improved vehicle energy conservation.”