Mazda aims for redesigned vehicles to weigh at least 220lbs lighter

Article by Anita Panait, on August 8, 2012

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.

Mazda’s improved MX-5 offers more driving fun than ever before. The latest version of this best-selling roadster in history features more responsive braking and acceleration, as well as an aggressive front-end design and enhanced pedestrian safety.

Technology specialists at Mazda have fine-tuned the MX-5’s acceleration management program for its manual shift models in order to improve acceleration control as well as the linear response to the throttle input, particularly at lower speeds. Meanwhile, they also optimized the vacuum brake booster, thereby enhancing brake return control. And thanks to excellent front-rear load distribution, better handling is achieved. Drivers are going to appreciate these improvements most when they are accelerating out of or braking into curves. The MX-5 has always been an expert on winding roads and, now, it reacts even more faithfully.

Moreover, the facelifted MX-5 is way ahead of the curve when it comes to other aspects, too. Its new active bonnet system, for one, automatically raises the hood in the event of pedestrian impact, enlarging the crumple zone in order to prevent or to at least lessen the severity of injuries, most especially to the head. Also, the front bumper’s lower section has been reinforced to protect people's legs better. Needless to say, the Mazda MX-5 is ready to meet stricter EU safety standards for pedestrians.

Topics: mazda

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