Magna International, in cooperation with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and partners FCA US and Grupo Antolin, announced it had developed a new, ultralight door architecture that achieves the project objective of 42.5% mass savings compared to an average current production door.
Making the announcement at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Magna and its project partners presented a solution to further help global automakers meet emissions standards and reduce fuel consumption through lightweighting.
An advanced engineering team – a collaborative effort between the company's corporate R&D and various product groups – combined its unique, full-vehicle perspective on the design of a driver's-side door with an inventive mix of materials and technology to tackle the challenge of significant weight reduction. This was developed in less than 10 months while keeping the cost within accepted industry parameters and providing a solution that applies to approximately 70% of the light vehicle market.
"The team started from scratch and reimagined the way we think about the design, development and material use of a door architecture," said Swamy Kotagiri, chief technology officer, Magna International. "Building on our significant expertise in lightweighting from previous DOE projects, the team leveraged our broad product development expertise and tackled this challenge in a cost effective manner while meeting safety, durability and functionality requirements."
Magna built on its know how from the development of the Multi-Material Lightweight Vehicle (MMLV) with the DOE and Ford in 2014, and took it a step further in creating a solution for this advanced ultralight door project.
A key innovation associated with the development of the ultralight door includes integration of Magna's SmartLatch electronic latch system. This eliminated the need for mechanical hardware and enabled the development of a unique carrier module with integrated glass guides and lift capability of a lightweight hybrid glass laminate, an industry first.
The door-in-white assembly makes extensive use of aluminium, which achieves approximately half of the total mass reduction of the door assembly. Overall, the project makes use of materials readily available today that can easily be made using existing manufacturing processes, without a significant increase in production costs or changes in body shop infrastructure.
Grupo Antolin contributed its knowledge in the design and manufacture of interior trim components to contribute to the significant mass reduction. The application of advanced moulding technologies and polymers contributed approximately 7% to the total mass reduction.
The ultralight door development included intensive simulation efforts, passing all safety and durability testing in the process. The next steps include manufacturing full-scale prototype door assemblies, performance tests and safety tests to validate the design, with the goal of being available for use in production vehicles by autumn 2020.
The FCA US engineering team has been an integral part of the design and development of the ultralight door, providing engineering collaboration to confirm compatibility with existing assembly operations as well as CAE durability, fatigue and safety analysis. FCA US plans to conduct testing of prototype door assemblies and full vehicles to validate the results of the predictive simulation.