Ford's PRODIGY Hybrid Electric Vehicle Powertrain Weight Reduction Actions 2001-01-0878
In the 21st century automakers are continually being challenged to meet a myriad of new government regulations regarding Safety, Emissions, and Fuel Economy, but must balance key requirements such as Customer Satisfaction, Shareholder Value, and Profits. Customers desire high Fuel Economy (FE) in their vehicle selection, but they prefer it not to result in a loss to a vehicle's performance, roominess, and safety. Current advances in hybrid vehicle technology can significantly diminish these conflicting requirements. However, these come at a significantly higher cost to the customer. One solution to improving both vehicle performance and FE is weight reduction by the use of advanced materials. Reducing the mass of the vehicle will result in a lower rolling resistance that will allow the vehicle manufacturer to size the engine smaller for a particular vehicle. This will improve FE, acceleration, and handling performance. Ford in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) has built a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), PRODIGY that makes use of advances in materials and design. The PRODIGY powertrain makes extensive use of aluminum, magnesium, titanium and other lightweight materials applications to significantly reduce weight. This paper summarizes the material selection, steps taken to achieve powertrain weight reduction and design optimization used to reduce the weight of the PRODIGY powertrain. The paper discusses the effects of powertrain and vehicle weight reduction on FE. In addition, the paper presents a brief overview of vehicle weight reduction actions.