Land Rovers Are No Lightweights - But Next-Gen SUVs Will Use Ultra-Light Metals Tech
If you buy yourself a Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) vehicle, it’s generally believed that it’s pretty substantially built.
They’re often designed to look as though they can withstand the rough-and-tumble of daily driving - on- and off-road.
Often, that means they’re also not known for being light.
But should that mean they can’t be fuel-efficient?
Work being done by the company and several motor industry partners is aiming to break the link between size and weight.
The partnership between JLR and a group of industry specialists aims to show that state-of-the-art, modern lightweight materials can be used to make cars of the kind JLR is known for, but which are much more environmentally responsible, thanks to having much lighter.
JLR is launching a four-year project to investigate how lightweight composite materials can be used in its vehicles.
Other high-profile car industry partners in the four-year project include the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Expert Tooling & Automation, Broetje-Automation UK, Toray International UK, CCP Gransden, and The Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS).
The main aim of the project will be to make the UK into a world leader in low-carbon technology, helping to stop 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere between 2023 and 2032.
It’s hoped that this target can be reached by a combination of more of us using electric vehicles, and all vehicles using much more of these lightweight materials which will, in turn, cut tailpipe emissions.
The research will look into developing lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures that will use more lightweight composite materials, instead of today’s aluminium and steel composites.
The project aims to find materials that can handle the increased torque and stress placed on them by high-performance engines and gearboxes.
JLR’s boffins believe that using these materials can result in them increasing overall vehicle stiffness by 30 per cent while also producing cars which are up to 35kg lighter than their current equivalents.
JLR says the lower vehicle weight will allow next-generation electric cars to be fitted with bigger batteries, and so be able to travel further between charges.
Jaguar Land Rover plans to have a fleet of prototype Tucana test vehicles by next year.
Marcus Henry, research manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The development of new lightweight body structures to complement the latest zero-emissions powertrains will be key as the electrification of our vehicle range continues.
“This project will propel Jaguar Land Rover and the UK supply chain into a world-leading position in low-carbon technology.”
JLR Still Steering Towards A Driverless Future
A futuristic new ‘smart’ city is being developed by JLR experts so they can test technology meant for their next generations of cars, and see how it interacts with other cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
The Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) will take 12km (8 miles) of public roads in the country and equip it to be a test bed for self-driving prototype cars. An all-electric Jaguar i-PACE is being fitted with all the new tech under development.
Sensors and state-of-the-art location systems will monitor how the autonomous driving features fitted to the car manage everyday driving tasks such as parking and driving in varying traffic conditions.
A host of tech companies is also helping develop the systems involved and will be watching how they perform on the test routes.
John Cornican, JLR’s general manager for Shannon in the Republic of Ireland, where the test area is located, said the site gave the company “a real-world facility to trial our emerging autonomous, connected, electrified and shared technology in a strategic location.”
Company Heads Further Into The Black
Separately, the end of January saw JLR buck the COVID doom and gloom by announcing a healthy profit for the last three months of 2020.
Its £439million surplus came largely due to healthy sales in China - up by about 25 per cent both quarter-on-quarter and compared with a year earlier - as the impact of Covid-19 in that country receded.