Ten years ago, lightweighting was the key to sustainability: It made ICE vehicles more fuel-efficient and helped battery-electric vehicles improve their meager range. Now the auto industry sees sustainability in a much broader context. It’s not just about making cars and parts lighter. It’s about creating more efficient and environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes.
This industry revolution is reflected in the 10th annual Auto Enlighten Awards, announced at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI.
Ford won for its ’22 F-150 Lightning, its much-celebrated battery-electric fullsize pickup, but companies farther down the supply chain also are recognized, such as automotive casting supplier Nemak. The Nemak Melting Center is recycling 2.5 billion aluminum cans per year, eliminating 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Instead of focusing only on lightweighting, the Altair Enlighten Awards honor the greatest sustainability and lightweighting advancements that successfully reduce carbon footprint, mitigate water and energy consumption, and leverage material reuse and recycling efforts.
“The caliber of nominees for this year’s Enlighten Award was unparalleled and is a true testament to the investments the automotive industry is making to reach – and even exceed – global sustainability targets,” says Richard Yen, senior vice president-Product and Strategy, Altair, a global leader in computational science and artificial intelligence.
Here are the winners:
Ford Motor Company – 2022 F-150 Lightning
The ’22 Ford F-150 Lighting with an extended-range battery delivers up to 580 hp and 775 lb.-ft. (1,051 Nm) of torque – the most torque of any F-150 ever – as well as a high-tech front trunk and the ability to power a home if needed. The F-150 Lightning is powered by dual in-board motors with up to 320 miles (515 km) of range on select models and is built on an all-new steel frame that supports a maximum 2,235-lb. (1,014-kg) payload and up to 10,000-lb. (4,536-kg) towing capacity.
Nemak’s Melting Center specializes in the production of aluminum-silicon alloys for the automotive industry. Recycling 2.5 billion aluminum cans per year, Nemak contributes to more sustainable manufacturing. With a recycling capacity of more than 400,000 tons per year, the process decreases the amount of energy needed to extract primary aluminum by 95%, eliminating 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Ford Motor Company – Plastic Wiring Harness Clips made from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Ocean waste.
Ford has implemented an industry-first application of 100% PCR ocean plastic turned into vehicle parts. The material composition of these parts is collected by workers from plastic waste in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, promoting healthier marine life, reducing landfill waste and energy use, and providing jobs.
Shiloh Industries and General Motors – ShilohCore Acoustic Patch Laminate (APL)
The laminate’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) damping performance functions comparably to a fully laminated vehicle material, but lowers weight, carbon emissions and costs. Patented ShilohCore NVH damping performance can be tailored to achieve required temperature ranges and target frequencies while maintaining vehicle fuel efficiency and reducing raw material use.
Future of Lightweighting
McMaster University and Nemak – NemAlloy, Novel Lightweight Automotive Aluminum Alloys
NemAlloy is a new, high-strength aluminum die-casting alloy that serves the needs of automotive structural components without requiring heat treatment. Due to its lightweighting advantages and heat treatment elimination, NemAlloy is a fully recyclable solution that can help companies transform the way they manufacture and forge a path to net zero emissions.
BASF Corp., Toyota and L&L Products – Toyota Tundra Second Row Seat Structure
Toyota replaced more than 60 stamped and welded steel pieces on the Tundra pickup with a seat assembly using just four composite pieces. These changes in production have resulted in 20% mass reductions compared with previous-generation steel seat structures and achieved 20% cost savings over previous steel seat structures.