A Hybrid Material Solution for Light-Weight Tailgates 2001-01-3062
Light-duty pickup trucks have been and are an important growing segment of the US automotive market. Like all other vehicles on the road, they must also do their part to conserve fuel and weight reduction is a vital tool for achieving this goal. Tailgates currently installed on pickup trucks typically weigh over 30 lbs. and weight loss in these panels is very desirable. Recent demographic shifts in truck users has also lead to more interest in light-weighting of components like the tailgate for ergonomic reasons.
Manufacturers have reached the limit for light-weighting tailgates using current materials and manufacturing processes. This new concept changes the paradigm. It uses a hybrid system of aluminum and plastic composite materials along with new manufacturing and assembly processes to achieve a significant weight reduction without compromising performance or other desired attributes. This paper describes the design and demonstrates its viability via analysis and test results. This new concept was aimed at achieving these fuel-efficiency and ergonomic benefits with minimal cost penalty.