Automobile experts are increasingly focusing on producing materials for greater fuel efficiency and weight reduction, which will increase the efficiency of vehicles and cut down exhaust emissions. The use of lightweight and high-performance materials is expected to lead to the development of vehicles that also offer higher levels of comfort and safety.
Advanced materials research is conducted in the United States under the U.S. Department of Energy and the Vehicle Technologies Program. The program produces designs and prototypes of vehicles that are not only affordable and fully-functional but also fuel-efficient and environment friendly. For existing vehicles, the program devises ways to reduce costs while leading to higher performance, efficiency, and durability of hybrid, diesel, advanced internal combustion, and fuel-cell-powered automobiles.
The metals which are being tested and developed include:
Substituting paint with resin: Painting automotive body panels and other components adds to costs and cycle-time. It also has an adverse impact on the environment due to the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Automotive manufacturers are increasingly replacing painted parts with engineered resins. These resins use molded-in-color features to integrate the color with the resin. This helps reduce emissions and gives an added benefit of special effects that paint cannot deliver. Resins also allow for improved vehicle fuel efficiency with lighter designs of numerous vehicles.
Automotive electronics: The electronic system used in vehicle engines, brakes, navigation systems, and climate control among others is known as automotive electronics. Due to their relatively low cost; more electronic capabilities can be added even to low-priced vehicles, which helps get more wiring into the same amount of space, and thus avoids undesirable weight.