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Aluminum Frame for SUV Can Save 40% Weight, Shown in Test Results Presented During SAE 2003 World Congress

Warrendale, PA, Feb. 13, 2003 - Ford Motor Company engineers will present results from a feasibility study that concludes that a 40 percent weight reduction is achievable for an aluminum truck frame at an equal performance level compared to a steel frame, during the SAE 2003 World Congress, March 3 - 6, Cobo Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Automakers are actively looking for ways to reduce vehicle weights in order to improve fuel economy and reduce pollutants. A principal technique to reduce vehicle weight without affecting size or functionality is using alternative materials to manufacture cars and trucks. Aluminum is one example of a material that shows great promise as a component in creating fuel-efficient vehicles.

Preliminary analysis indicates an aluminum frame of a gage required to achieve desired stiffness needed for ride, handling and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) will likely have excellent energy absorption during frontal impacts. Engineers assessed the overall capability of aluminum frames for sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to achieve equivalent performance to the 2002 Ford Explorer steel frame. The study was conducted as a part of the joint government/industry Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle (PNGV), Ford Motor Company, with the support of Alcan Aluminum Corporation and The Budd Company.

"A Design Concept for an Aluminum Sport Utility Vehicle Frame" (SAE paper 2003-01-0572) will be presented at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 4, Room 02-33. Numerous other technical sessions and panels will address lightweight materials during SAE 2003 week. Notably, "Putting Vehicles on a High-Protein Diet: the Challenge of Making Lighter, Safer Cars," a panel discussion on the issue, will take place 8 a.m., Thursday, March 6 in the Technology Theater in the exhibit hall, and is open to anyone attending SAE 2003 World Congress. Another panel on materials selection will begin at 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 4, Room 02-33, and is open to conference registrants.

New to the SAE 2003 World Congress: DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors will hold corporate engineering meetings at Cobo followed by VIP tours of the SAE 2003 exhibit floor; a Technology Theater on the exhibit floor, home to executive panel discussions throughout the week; and a re-categorized technical session program.

SAE World Congress, the world's largest showcase of automotive engineering technologies, will attract an estimated 40,000+ attendees from more than 40 countries. This year's host company is DaimlerChrysler.

To attend, visit or call 1-877-SAE-CONG (723-2664); outside the U.S. and Canada, call 1-724-772-4027.