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Technical Paper

Assessing the Total Vehicle Impact of Alternative Body Technologies

This paper will explore the extended impact of advanced body technologies in two ways; laterally, by potentially reducing the requirements of other vehicle systems and horizontally, in terms of the life cycle costs of operation. Variants of Steel, Aluminum, and polymer composite designs will be explored. Traditional cost model projections of direct manufacturing costs and mass will be compared with the impact of functional system interrelationships and vehicle performance in order to assess the total vehicle costs and benefits of alternative systems. This analytical approach can give material suppliers and automakers a framework for understanding the various cost tradeoffs in the use of alternative material systems for automotive bodies-in-white, in terms of total cost, mass, and fuel economy. Through this understanding, better decisions about how best to invest development resources can be made.
Technical Paper

Assessing the Economic Viability of Advanced Vehicle Technologies

All over the world, there are currently many advanced vehicle technology development efforts underway to improve fuel economy or exploit alternative fuel sources. These efforts range from reduced mass body structures to advanced powertrain architectures. In additional to the technical and performance hurdles, these efforts also face economic obstacles if they are ever to compete with and replace conventional vehicle concepts. As far as the manufacturing economics for many advanced technologies are understood at all, most are likely to be more expensive than conventional vehicles in the near term. In order to intelligently invest in new technology development, the entire life cycle economic costs and benefits must be assessed so that the eventual return on investment, if one even exists, can be known. This paper addresses a methodology for comparing both the up front manufacturing costs and the operation life cycle costs for conventional and advanced vehicle technologies.
Technical Paper

Not the Delorean Revisited: An Assessment of the Competitive Position of a Stainless Steel Body-in-White

Autokinetics is a Rochester Hills MI design firm working with Armco, a supplier of stainless steel. Together, they have developed an architecture that replaces the traditional stamped and spot welded steel unibody with a novel stainless steel spaceframe architecture. Fabrication Rollformings Thin wall castings Progressive die stampings Plastic support and exterior panels Assembly - Spot, laser, and MIG welding Relative to conventional steel unibodies, the Autokinetics spaceframe architecture offers a number of projected advantages. Substantial mass reduction Increased safety Improved ride and NVH More flexible packaging Lower lifecycle impact Potential for paint shop elimination The obvious question that arises, and the one that this paper will answer, is: How does the Autokinetics spaceframe architecture compete on cost?
Technical Paper

Development of a Manufacturing Strategy for Moderate Volume Production of a Composite Vehicle Structure

In order to achieve commercial success, alternative vehicle structures must offer a favorable balance of performance and economics. Whether for traditional or alternative powerplants, composite structures have the potential for significant weight savings, but to date have been limited to very low production volumes. Consumer demand requires that electric vehicles must have comparable range and acceleration relative to internal combustion engine vehicles. A major obstacle to this goal is the mass of batteries needed for this level of performance. As a result, electrical vehicle design strategies have aimed at significantly reducing the weight of vehicle structures. Examples include the aluminum intensive EV-1 from General motors and the composite bodied Sunrise from Solectria. This paper examines the development of a manufacturing strategy for a lightweight, all composite body-in-white.
Technical Paper

Economic Analysis of the Ultra Light Steel Auto Body

Aluminum and polymer composites have long been considered the materials of choice for achieving mass reduction in automotive structures. As consumer and government demand for mass reduction grows, the use of these materials, which have traditionally been more expensive than the incumbent steel, becomes more likely. In response to this growing challenge, the international steel community has joined forces to develop the Ultra Light Steel Auto Body (ULSAB). The resulting design saves mass and increases performance relative to current steel unibodies. Although mass savings are not as dramatic as those achieved by alternative materials, this design offers the potential to be accompanied by a manufacturing cost reduction. The projected manufacturing piece and investment cost for the ULSAB are investigated using technical cost modeling. The results presented here examine the elements that contribute to the cost, including treatments for stamping, hydroforming, assembly and purchased parts.
Technical Paper

Hydroformed Structural Elements: An Economic Evaluation of the Technology

Hyrdroformed tubes have seen use in the aerospace industry for many years and are seeing increased use in the automotive body-in-white (BIW). The automotive industry has chosen to use hydroformings for a number of reasons including reduced part weight, piece count reduction, and the flexibility to form complex shapes of varying wall thickness. With all of these potential advantages, still one more provides the greatest incentive to switch from a stamped assembly to a hydroformed tube: the ability to reduce cost. It is generally accepted that hydroformings can indeed be cost effective to produce, yet the question remains: when should a stamped assembly be replaced by a hydroformed component? This paper will attempt to answer the question above by laying out several case studies and comparing their direct manufacturing costs.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of Tailor Welded Blanks Through Technical Cost Modeling

In the past decade, the demand for and development of tailor-welded blanks (TWBs) has increased dramatically. TWBs help reduce body mass, piece count and assembly costs, while potentially reducing overall cost. IBIS Associates, Inc. has performed a cost analysis of tailor welded blank manufacturing through the use of Technical Cost Modeling (TCM), a methodology used to simulate fabrication and assembly processes. IBIS has chosen the automobile door inner panel for comparison of TWBs and conventionally stamped door inners with added reinforcements. Manufacturing costs are broken down by operation for variable costs (material, direct labor, utility), and fixed costs (equipment, tooling, building, overhead labor, maintenance, and cost of capital). Analyses yield information valuable to process selection by comparing cost as a function of manufacturing method, process yield, production volume, and process rate.
Technical Paper

The Steel Unibody: The Application of Cost Analysis to Determine Cost Reduction Strategies

Despite repeated challenges from alternative materials and processes, the stamped and spot welded steel unibody remains the near-unanimous choice of automakers for vehicle body-in-white (BIW) structures and exterior panels in volume production. Conventional steel's only weakness is mass; aluminum and polymer composites offer the potential for considerable mass savings, but generally at a higher cost. Efforts within the automakers as well as by outside organizations such as the international steel industry's Ultra Light Steel Auto Body (ULSAB) program are underway to improve the steel uni-body's mass and cost position. To reduce cost, it is first necessary to identify cost. The measurement of cost for a complex system such as an automobile BIW is far from a trivial task. This paper presents an analytical approach to understanding the manufacturing cost for a conventional steel unibody. The results of this cost analysis are then used to outline a strategy for future cost reduction.
Technical Paper

Compression Molded Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) for Automotive Exterior Body Panels: A Cost and Market Assessment

Automotive exterior body panels are a critical component of today's vehicle. They provide a surface for painting, offer the first line of defense against damage from accidents and the elements, and in most cases add to the overall stiffness of the vehicle. Despite small inroads from aluminum and polymer systems, steel remains the predominant body panel material. Of the alternatives, sheet molding compound (SMC) has been the most successful challenger. This paper examines the cost and market conditions affecting SMC today and in the near future. The impact on cost of SMC compression molding process improvements is assessed over a ten year period for a full body panel set. These results are compared to stamped steel as a function of annual production volume and other key factors. The result is a cost “crossover” point below which SMC has the lower cost.
Technical Paper

Making the PNGV Super Car a Reality with Carbon Fiber: Pragmatic Goal or Pipe Dream?

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), a collaborative government-industry R&D program, has laid out and initiated a plan for a “Supercar” with the following specifications: a fuel economy of 80 miles per gallon (2.9 liters/100 km), size comparable to a midsize, four door sedan, equivalent function in other performance areas, and cost commensurate with that of today's automobile. Together, the performance and cost goals are formidable to say the least. The PNGV projects that a 50% mass savings in the “body-in-white” (BIW) is a necessary contribution to meet the 80 mpg goal. The two most likely materials systems to meet the mass reduction goal are aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites, neither of which are inexpensive relative to today's steel unibody.
Technical Paper

Solventborne Painting of a Steel Autobody: A Manufacturing Cost Analysis of Conventional and UV Bake Curing

The painting of today's automobile incurs both economic as well as environmental costs. Using an approach called Technical Cost Modeling, this paper assesses the cost of painting a steel vehicle using a conventional solventborne painting technique and a UV cure alternative. The UV cure approach is found to have a cost advantage due primarily to decreased material, energy, and investment components. The cost of both systems is examined as a function of changing production volumes (and corresponding production rates) as well as first pass capability, with volume being found to be the more significant contributor. While the UV cure approach needs to be demonstrated at prototype and high volumes, it offers the potential not only for improved cost, but also significantly decreased environmental impact in the form of reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) solvent emissions.
Technical Paper

A Manufacturing Cost Analysis of Tube and Node Steel Spaceframes

The design and manufacture of today's automobile structure is dominated by a single approach: the stamping and spot welding of sheet steel. There are, however, a number of potential challengers to this steel unibody approach. These include a steel spaceframe, an aluminum unibody, an aluminum spaceframe, a composite monocoque, and hybrids of these types. The primary barriers to adopting these alternatives have been technical practicality and cost. This paper considers one of the alternative approaches -the steel spaceframe- and examines its cost for two potential design and manufacturing scenarios using a computer spreadsheet based technique called Technical Cost Modeling. Selected default assumptions -including annual production volume, piece count, and assembly rates- are then varied to assess their impact on overall cost. The manufacturing costs for a conventional steel unibody as well as several of the other alternatives are used as a baseline for comparison.
Technical Paper

Cost Simulation of the Automobile Recycling Infrastructure: The Impact of Plastics Recovery

Much attention has focused recently on the recycling of automobiles. Due to the value of their metallic content, automobiles are presently the most highly recycled product in the world. The problem is the remainder of material that is presently landfilled. Automotive shredder residue (ASR, or “fluff”) is made up of a number of materials including plastics, glass, fluids, and dirt. The presence of this mix presents both a problem and an opportunity for the automotive and recycling industries. In order to determine how best to recover the materials that make up ASR, it is first necessary to understand the costs incurred in the present automobile recycling infrastructure: dismantling, shredding/ferrous metal separation, non-ferrous metal separation, and landfilling. Through a technique called Technical Cost Modeling, the costs of the present process are simulated.
Technical Paper

Fender Material Systems: A Lifecycle Cost Comparison

This paper explores a framework for simulating the lifecycle costs of an automotive component for alternative material systems. The front fender for a midsize sedan is chosen as a case study. The material systems under consideration include the following: stamped steel, stamped aluminum, compression molded SMC, injection molded thermoplastic, and reinforced reaction injection molded polyurethane (RRIM PUR). The lifecycle for the fender is defined to include manufacturing, operation, and post-use. Using a technique called Technical Cost Modeling, manufacturing costs including fabrication, assembly, and priming are simulated for a range of production volumes. Operation costs are calculated in two areas: fuel consumption and repair. Component weight is examined as it influences fuel consumption (and therefore cost) for varying scenarios of vehicle life and annual mileage. Repair costs are assessed for different collision speeds and directions.
Technical Paper

Economic Criteria for Sensible Selection of Body Panel Materials

In order to determine the best way to evaluate materials selection from an economic standpoint, a discussion of conventional cost estimation is given versus a more precise technique, Technical Cost Modeling. Automotive body panels are used as an application for the costing techniques; conclusions about fabrication costs and parts consolidation are drawn with regard to these parts.