Comparing the Mass, Energy, and Cost Effects of Lightweighting in Conventional and Electric Passenger Vehicles

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 284-295
Johannes Hofer1 , Erik Wilhelm2, Warren Schenler1
1 Energy Departments, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen PSI, Switzerland
2 Engineering Department, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

In this work the effect of weight reduction using advanced lightweight materials on the mass, energy use, and cost of conventional and battery electric passenger vehicles is compared. Analytic vehicle simulation is coupled with cost assessment to find the optimal degree of weight reduction minimizing manufacturing and total costs. The results show a strong secondary weight and cost saving potential for the battery electric vehicles, but a higher sensitivity of vehicle energy use to mass reduction for the conventional vehicle. Generally, light weighting has the potential to lower vehicle costs, however, the results are very sensitive to parameters affecting lifetime fuel costs for conventional and battery costs for electric vehicles. Based on current technology cost estimates it is shown that the optimal amount of primary mass reduction minimizing total costs is similar for conventional and electric vehicles and ranges from 22% to 39%, depending on vehicle range and overall use patterns. The difference between the optimal solutions minimizing manufacturing versus total costs is higher for conventional than battery electric vehicles.

Keywords: Light weighting, Weight reduction, Passenger car, Electric vehicle, Energy use, Total cost, Cost optimisation

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