Faced with pressure to meet stricter government fuel-economy standards, Mazda has made it a goal to reduce the weight of its models by at least 220 pounds every time it implements a redesign. That goal could really be described as ambitious, since Mazda’s engineers also have to consider consumer demand for more comfort and convenience features, as well as meet safety and emissions regulations – all of these make any vehicle heavier. Mazda’s engineers, however, proved that it was possible after they managed to make the CX-5 crossover around 575 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the CX-7, largely due to a new approach called “SkyActiv.”
But achieving the goal was only easy at the start, with Dave Coleman, vehicle development engineer for Mazda’s North American operations telling Automotive News that it would “get harder and harder.” To cut around 575 pounds off its crossover model, Mazda explored many options and found some solutions. These solutions included designing the frame in a way that engineers would only use just enough steel to provide the necessary strength. Mazda also made some small changes to the redesign, with each alteration adding up to create a much larger effect. For example, the Mazda CX-5 uses bolts that are eight grams lighter than usual.
Other carmakers are feeling the pressure to make their vehicles lighter as well. They have been steadily increasing their use of lighter materials like aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber. For instance, Ford Motor Co. is mulling a largely aluminum body for the next generation of the F-150 pickup truck, according to report from the Wall Street Journal.