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Johnson Controls’s multi-material composite lightweight solution

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“The answer to the cost challenge is not a simple one. The two main factors driving lightweight solutions are cost and regulatory requirements for CO2 reduction.”, says Dr. Andreas Eppinger, Group Vice President Technology & Innovation at Johnson Controls. In a detailed interview, Dr. Eppinger discusses advanced materials applications, cost reduction and safety in automotive seating. Read the interview here:

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Johnson Controls’s multi-material composite lightweight solution

  1. 1. Automotive IQ recently spoke with Dr. Andreas Eppinger, Group Vice President Technology & Innovation at Johnson Controls about advanced materials applications in automotive seating. Dr. Eppinger, in your lecture you will speak about advanced materials applications in automotive seating and a multi-material composite lightweight solution. What are the drivers and inhibitors of testing these new materials? Dr. Andreas Eppinger: The two main factors driving lightweight solutions are: cost and regulatory requirements for CO2 reduction. Car manufacturers face different challenges, depending on their fleet portfolio and mix. If a vehicle line faces challenges in meeting weight targets, the automaker’s willingness to invest in lightweight components increases. We will therefore see a variety of lightweighting approaches and combination of solutions, including engine optimization and powertrain hybridization, as well as new multi-material applications across the entire vehicle. Introducing new multi-material solutions commercially competes against an existing manufacturing capital investment that is huge and well-optimized. “Old” technology is competing hard and, when challenged, even traditional industries can become very creative. Think about new high-strength steel and welding technologies for very thin materials as an example. There is a conflict between cost reduction and the use of new materials. Do new (and lightweight) materials pay-off? A.E.: The answer to the cost challenge is not a simple one. There are cases where the pure material cost of new material combinations is higher, but the overall cost of the assembly is reduced due to new system design, simplifications by combining multiple parts into one and lower assembly cost. The pay-off limit depends on the situation. New vehicle segments and designs have their own rules, and high-performance cars or vehicle lines that face weight challenges are more willing to invest in weight-saving technologies. For the overall market we will not see a solution that fits every automaker. It becomes a tricky engineering challenge to use the right material for the right purpose and optimize the overall supply chain and manufacturing footprint. "We have to understand what we call 'Human Factors' - the underlying physiological and psychological needs of an individual. How do we create features that the consumer both perceives and values?"

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