Increased use of aluminium and composite materials seems to be key when it comes to saving weight in the automotive industry, but Mazda’s SkyActiv-X platform will buck conventional thinking by dropping kilos with an all-steel body in 2019.
As reported in CarsGuide, this new infrastructure is set to debut in the fourth-generation Mazda3 car. Mazda’s platform development boss Hiroyuki Matsumoto has confirmed that the new body will instead use a greater proportion of high-strength steel, rather than mild steel, and be lighter as a result.
The current SkyActiv platform uses about 18 percent high-strength steel, while the second-generation body will increase this to somewhere nearer 45 percent. The vehicle will retain its strength but use less material overall, therefore reducing its mass.
Mazda’s platform development team have yet to reveal precisely how much weight will be saved.
Mr. Matsumoto explained that aluminium is still an important part of Mazda’s future because it’s ultimately stiffer and lighter, but steel’s better noise absorption properties are key for achieving future targeted refinement gains.
These gains will also be aided by a new body damper system, involving blocks of hard resin being compressed between two pieces of sheet metal at 16 strategic points in the body to reduce vibration. Working in conjunction with the seam-sealing glue already used along the edges of monocoque panels, these blocks would in turn reduce vibration between spot welds.
These changes reflect the SkyActiv ethos, which involves developing Mazda’s current products further, with a human-first approach. The development team aims to realise this vision by aligning all the components that exist between driver and road. As a result, each wheel and tyre option has its own suspension tuning.
Other measures will include the move to a torsion beam rear suspension design, instead of the multilink design featured in previous Mazda3 models.
Mazda’s new approach to materials comes hot on the heels of the announcement that future cars could have wooden parts.
Content Marketing Executive at Motors.co.uk
October 5, 2017