Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Weight Watchers - we need to slim down our cars

Weight is one of the most critical factor in car engineering and at the same time quite underrated. Cars have become heavier and heavier over the last 30 years. And it's not that helpful. The weight doesn't only influence handling, but also fuel economy and energy to be spent for production. And of course if there's more stuff in a car there's more you have to get rid off at the end of its life cycle. So, it seems, there are more than enough arguments to make cars light. However, the contrary has happened.
An excellent illustration from a paper from the "LS-DYNA Anwenderforum (Bamberg 2008)" illustrates this. But let's take some examples.
Here's a accidental list of cars and their base weights:

Car Weight (kg)
Porsche Cayenne GTS 2225
Mercedes 350 SL 1750
Lamborghini Murcielago 6.5 V12 1750
Nissan GT-R 1740
BMW M3 1605
Toyota Prius 1400
Porsche Carrera 997 S 1350
VW Golf 1.4 TSI 1340
Fiat Punto 1.4 T 1155
Lotus Elise R 900
Morgan 4/4 1.6 880

You have to look very hard to find a car that is below 1'000 kg. And the weights in the table aren't even what you get when you receive your fully spec'd car. Extras such as navigation systems, electrical sunroofs, etc. will add addiditional weight, so that the Golf mentioned in the table may be well 1450 kg and not the 1'340 kg quoted.
Obviously it could be different, as the Connaught D-Type GT V10 with 850 kg, the Mindset with less than 900kg or other innovative cars are proving it. And you don't even need to suffer as good solutions offering both performance and comfort are possible.

So, maybe we should form an organization such as a "Car Weight Watchers Association" to focus on the weight of cars? And promote light cars and blacklist heavy ones?

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