Ford wins the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award for lightweighting


Altair together with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) has announced Ford Motor Company as the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for its use of various lightweight materials to minimize weight of the 2015 F-150 (above). The award was presented August 3rd during the 2015 CAR Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Mich.The Enlighten Award is the automotive industry’s first award program created specifically to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

Ford’s entry, one of 17 nominations that competed for the award, was selected as the winner for taking 318 kg off the F-150, while improving its performance, safety, and efficiency. Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including the frame, body, powertrain, battery and interior features such as the seats. The weight savings help the truck tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and it contributes to fuel efficiency.

High-strength aluminum alloys were used throughout the F-150 for the first time, saving approximately 181 kg from the vehicle’s body. Ford’s engineering, research and manufacturing teams overcame the challenge of shifting from the traditional steel body to the advanced aluminum production. This is a noteworthy example of taking aluminum to a high volume application.

“As America’s truck leader, Ford is honored to be named the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award winner for the all-new Ford F-150,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development and chief technical officer, Ford Motor Company. “This award is recognition of our outstanding team members, who set out to build the best truck ever for our customers.”

Additionally, Ford increased use of high-strength steel from 23 to 78%. By doing so, it increased the stiffness of the frame while reducing the weight by as much as 27 kg. The 2015 F-150 established a new standard for full-size pickups by bringing together improved capability and efficiency, along with cutting-edge smart vehicle technology.

“We are happy to congratulate Ford for winning the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award,” said Dave Mason, vice president of global automotive at Altair. “It’s encouraging to see Ford implementing a holistic lightweighting strategy, which resulted in impressive weight savings that were incredibly significant to the judging panel.”

This year’s runner-up was General Motors, who developed and used innovative computer-aided engineering (CAE) methods to achieve a 74 kg weight reduction on the Alpha architecture of the 2012 Cadillac ATS/CTS. Immersive lattice topology optimization, strategic structural bulkhead placement, and multi-disciplinary loadcase optimization, were used, along with expert interpretation of the results, to lead the design of the architecture structure.

The Altair Enlighten Award is intended to honor the greatest achievements in weight savings each year; to inspire interest from industry, engineering, policymakers, educators, students and the public; to create further competition for new ideas in the industry; and to provide an incentive to share technological advances.

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Graham Heeps is a regular contributor, and knows the dynamics industry well, having previously edited the title. Graham also writes regularly on automotive and motorsport subjects for other magazines from Vehicle Dynamics International’s publisher, UKi Media & Events (as well as editing Tire Technology International), and contributes to a range of online and print publications in the UK, USA and Canada.

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