Nissan, Toyota, ZF, Harley and others win lightweighting awards

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An electric Harley-Davidson that weighs just 549 pounds and can travel 146 miles on a charge and Nissan’s 2020 Sentra were cited by software and engineering supplier Altair for achieving weight reductions without sacrificing safety.

Altair revealed the recipients of its 2020 Enlighten Award on Tuesday, recognizing companies and products for outstanding lightweighting efforts.

In the full vehicle category of the award, Altair officials cited Harley’s Livewire — now on sale for $29,799 — for using lightweight components to increase energy capacity to vehicle weight by 60 percent.

The redesigned 2020 Sentra compact was a runner-up for improving safety without increasing weight by using a variety of materials in different applications.

Toyota’s 2021 Sienna minivan won the Enlighten Award in the module category for its free-standing, injection-molded two-occupant back frame. The component reduced parts from 15 to just one, cut production costs by 15 percent and reduced weight by 30 percent.

An electric truck parking brake from ZF Friedrichshafen that saves about 25 pounds over standard mechanical brakes was runner-up.

Mubea, a German supplier specializing in lightweight components, won an Enlighten Award for Enabling Technology for its glass-fiber-reinforced leaf spring. The component is used mostly in the suspension systems of heavy trucks. The spring weighs up to 75 percent less than a typical multi-leaf steel spring.

DuPont’s Betaseal X2500 adhesive, which joins thermoplastic inner and outer panels, was runner-up.

A Future of Lightweighting award went to Marelli. The company’s sheet compression-molded suspension steering knuckle reduces weight by 25 percent over the aluminum version and by 50 percent over steel knuckles.

Nissan took runner-up honors for an aluminum/carbon-fiber body panel design that can reduce weight by about 50 percent over steel panels.

Altair, the suburban Detroit software engineering firm specializing in product development, has handed out the awards for the past seven years.

“As we sit at the crossroads of science, engineering, art and design, creating a more sustainable future is the essence of Altair as we are a pioneer in lightweighting technologies and methodologies,” Altair CEO James Scapa said in a statement.

“I am proud to see that the Altair Enlighten Awards have become a sought-after recognition that acknowledges the world’s greatest automotive lightweighting innovations while inspiring interest from industries, engineers, policymakers, educators, students and the public.”

Altair traditionally announces its recipients during the annual CAR Management Briefing Seminars, an industry gathering in Traverse City, Mich.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the live seminars were canceled this year. They are being held online Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Saurabh Shukla

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