NAIAS 2017: Lightweight door module aims to trim vehicle weight

  • 11-Jan-2017 08:08 EST
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Magna's ultralight door module, developed in collaboration with FCA, Grupo Antolin and the U.S. DoE, achieves significant mass savings versus current production counterparts.


A new ultralight door architecture nets a 42.5% weight savings compared to a current production door—and that’s enough to put this lightweight concept in an enviable position.

“This lightweight door module has a great opportunity to be commercialized. It’s not just high-tech. It’s also at the right cost,” said Reuben Sarkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sarkar and Ian Simmons, Vice President Business Development, Corporate Engineering and R&D at Magna, spoke with Automotive Engineering following a press conference detailing the lightweight door project at the 2017 Detroit auto show.

Magna, in cooperation with the DoE and partners FCA US and Grupo Antolin, developed the driver’s-side door in less than 10 months.

Aluminum accounts for approximately half of the total mass reduction of the door-in-white assembly. The door module also includes Magna’s SmartLatch electronic latch system, which eliminates the need for mechanical hardware.

Grupo Antolin’s contributions in the area of molding techniques and polymers represented approximately 7% of the total mass reduction.

“This lightweight door was done with today’s production materials and today’s production processes and methodologies in mind. It’s a holistic approach that includes the module, door inner, mirror and trim,” said Simmons.

The concept door also was developed at significantly less than the venture's cost bogie. “The target in terms of cost was approximately $5 per pound and we came in at $2.59 per pound,” Simmons said.

Simulation showed the door module passing all safety and durability requirements. “FCA US is supporting us with all the prototype builds and all the testing. And it’s their functional requirements that we simulated.,” said Simmons, “All the simulation work and all the initial testing has come back positive.”

Next steps include the manufacture of full-scale prototype door assemblies, performance tests and safety tests to validate the design. The goal is to have the lightweight door available for production vehicles by the fall of 2020.

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