has become a governing trend in vehicle design, and Tier I auto
suppliers are doing all they can to supply vehicle
manufacturers with lightweight solutions.
Two such suppliers, Maumee,
Ohio-based Dana Holding Corp. and Aurora, Ontario-based Magna
International Inc., discussed their commitment during Bank of
America Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.s 2013 New York Auto
Dana, which makes axles,
driveshafts, transmissions, sealing and thermal management
technologies, now produces a Diamond Series driveshaft that
"takes a huge amount of weight out of a typical commercial
vehicle and is now being applied in the light vehicle segment,"
president and chief executive officer Roger Wood said at the
"Customers have some real
challenges with the fuel-economy regulations, especially on the
commercial side, because their customers buy those vehicles
based on how durable it is, what it does for their business and
how much fuel they can save," he said. "In commercial and light
vehicles, weight is becoming everything now."
The Diamond Series driveshaft
allows automakers to take out center beams, support beams and
other structures from beneath the vehicle, removing weight from
"a couple of different areas," Wood said.
There is "enthusiasm" and
growing support from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to
begin the process of converting parts and components to
lightweight materials, Wood said.
Magna International chief
executive officer Donald J. Walker agreed. "What all our
customers look for when they do a product enhancement is fuel
efficiency and (carbon dioxide) emission. Lighter weight is a
big part of that, and its driving technology," he said.
"Theres a lot of very interesting discussion about how we
can have a better product at a lower cost, lower weight. (OEMs)
are really thinking through innovation opportunities, and
theyre very open to suggestions."
For example, new-model pickup
trucks from Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. and
Detroit-based General Motors Co. "are using multiple materials
and processes and new joining methods, so weve been able
to take a frame to the next generation and reduce mass by over
20 percent," Walker said. "We developed high- and low-pressure
die casting capabilities to replace a lot of existing products
in the body structure. (That represents) an advancement using
mainly aluminum to reduce weight in bodies."
Magna won the first
thermoplastic composite modular liftgate awarded in North
America. "Its for an Asian-based OEM," Walker said. Magna
also supplies the new liftgate to a German OEM, offering "a
significant reduction in mass and assembly complexity for our
customers," Walker said.