Every year, new models look different and drive a little differently, and while much of that is due to design updates, a big part comes from the materials used in making the vehicle. New materials can affect everything from performance to efficiency to safety.
Forget About Steel, Use Aluminum
Because it’s much lighter than steel, aluminum is becoming a more popular choice for the body of a vehicle. The 2015 Ford F-150’s body and bed are made of high-strength aluminum, making the pick-up 700lbs lighter. This makes for better mpg, and a more agile truck, and because the 6,000-series alloy aluminum used on the F-150 is stronger than some steel used on other vehicles, you really don’t miss out on anything. Other automakers are also using or starting to use aluminum to get their vehicles down to a new weight.
Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials
Although some car companies have used carbon nanotube materials in different parts of their cars since the 1990s, nanotechnology and nanomaterials will become a bigger part of the auto industry in years to come. The nanomaterials are strong and lightweight, similar to carbon fiber, but not nearly as expensive to produce. Nanotechnology and nanomaterials have been used to make bumpers, and other body parts, but soon they’ll be used in tires, car coatings, anti-fog headlights, and more.
This amazing material is a form of carbon that’s around 200 times stronger than steel. It’s pure carbon that is one atom thick, and conducts heat and electricity very efficiently. This material has tons of potential, but scientists and designers are still figuring out how to use it. So far, its use has been tested in batteries, paint, body panels, and much else.
You may think you’ve never seen or heard of Gorilla Glass, but you’d be wrong. You look at it, or actually through it, every day if you have a smart phone. BMW, as well as many other automakers, has started to use this Gorilla Glass on their vehicles. The BMQ i8 is the first production car to use Gorilla Glass, which is about half the weight of conventional laminated glass, and it probably won’t be the last.