Mike Stevens | Jun 10, 2009

VOLKSWAGEN IS WORKING on making the most of the new lightweight construction technologies TMR reported on this week. The German manufacturer has developed a Golf bodyshell some 30 percent lighter than the standard five-door Golf.

Officially known as the SuperLIGHT-CAR project, Volkswagen Auto Group has worked over four years with the European Commission, along with Renault, Volvo, Opel, Daimler and 32 suppliers to develop the technology.

The bodyshell uses varying combinations of steel, magnesium, aluminium and plastics to achieve the dramatic weight loss, with specific volumes of each material determined on a cost-versus-benefit basis.

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As part of the project, Volkswagen developed three concepts. One made entirely of steel but using the project’s advanced techniques, a second low-cost version using mixed materials, and a third concept using a greater amount of the lighter, more expensive materials.

The all-steel bodyshell shaved 55kg or 20 percent from the weight of a regular Golf shell, while the most expensive mixed material concept cut around 114kg or 41 percent – nearly half the weight of a regular Golf bodyshell.

The low-cost mixed material concept – the preferred direction for manufacturers, ensuring a balanced cost-versus-benefit ratio – achieved a loss of 82kg from the weight of a regular Golf bodyshell.

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A major requirement of the project, as laid down by the European Commission, is that the car must be as crashworthy as a normal Golf, and with production volume able to be sustained at up to 1000 cars a day.

Volkswagen, along with its partners in the SuperLIGHT-CAR project, has not yet announced when this technology will make the leap into production cars.

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