Lightweighting vehicles require making complex choices with materials and related trade-offs! 

ALMA’s work on lightweighting allows manufacturers to reduce battery pack size and weight, which again can increase the range and performance of EVs. Smaller, lighter, more efficient: that’s our goal!

🔍 In ALMA, the first priority was to ensure technical requirements for crash behaviour were fulfilled. Following this, an initial assessment aimed to detect components that remained unmodified to maintain vehicle structural integrity, those suitable for advanced steels from ArcelorMittal and those that could potentially be produced with advanced SMC from BATZ GROUP or other steel grades.

🔄 For the SMC and other steel grades, where various materials were eligible to be used, decisions on the “right material in the right place” were made, which aligns with our eco-design approach and circularity.

🔄 Certain systems, such as the cowl panel, rear floor panel, rear tray, and battery lid, could potentially use SMC or steel, requiring further analysis.

Also Read: ALMA’s plans to decarbonise road transport

📊 Sustainability analysis using the BEVSIM tool by TNO revealed that the cowl panel and battery lid benefit most from lightweighting with SMCs, with the former showing even higher potential. The steel option not only keeps several references but also has a higher carbon equivalent (CO2 eq.) intensity.

✨ The image below shows the development of the Cowl Panel by BATZ GROUP, designed using advanced SMC, which helped in shaving the weight of novel ALMA EV. 

What were the considerations that BATZ accounted for before designing the cowl panel with SMCs?

According to BATZ, when the vehicle structure was unveiled, the consortium partner conducted a comprehensive analysis of its various components and systems to determine the most optimal approach for developing alternatives with a primary focus on lightweighting.

Also read: ALMA project is 90% complete

Carbon fibre ditched in favour of SMC, cost effectiveness was important

Considerations like estimated cost played a crucial role in these proposals, necessitating the use of materials and technologies readily available for mainstream vehicles rather than exclusive or exotic car materials like Carbon Fibre, which, while exceptionally lightweight, come with a high price tag. Simultaneously, the imperative to achieve weight advantages led to the integration of multiple original metal sheet stamped parts into single components, thereby reducing the reliance on costly tools and joining processes. 

Cowl Panel made with SMC for ALMA BEV is global pioneering novelty

The selected components for development included the Battery Lid, with specific crash protection requirements for safeguarding the battery, and the Cowl Panel, a pioneering global novelty in SMC material for this vehicle type, subject to significant stress and responsible for upholding structural integrity during frontal crashes. 

During the last year, BATZ’ main work was to develop the design of the Cowl Panel in SMC/SMC-Tex alternative materials while providing help to other partners to refine and evaluate its correct performance during the crash.